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Lola's Homeless founder calls for an end to homeless deaths on Newham's streets

PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:08 08 October 2019

Lorraine Tabone of the Lola's Homeless voluntary group. Picture: Ken Mears

Lorraine Tabone of the Lola's Homeless voluntary group. Picture: Ken Mears

Archant

The founder of a homelessness support group has called for an end to the deaths of rough sleepers.

Lorraine Tabone of Lola's Homeless was commenting after the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed there were 27 recorded deaths on Newham's streets between 2013 and 2018.

Lorraine said: "I feel angry and powerless."

But she warned the current number is likely to be higher, estimating eight deaths this year.

There were five registered deaths in Newham last year making up part of an estimated total of 726 in England and Wales for the same period. A total of 79 rough sleepers were counted on Newham's streets in 2018, ONS figures show.

The ONS figures revealed that 294 homeless people died as a result of drugs.

Lorraine said: "A lot of the homeless I've met didn't even smoke cigarettes when I met them. They turned to drugs while living on the streets and became a target for Newham's dealers."

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Spice, heroin, crack cocaine and alcohol are the main subtances abused while a failing care system left young people vulnerable to homelessness because at the age of 21 they are no longer looked after by the state, she added.

And Lorraine said she is ready to take charge of an assessment hub in Newham if a permanent space could be found and funded.

A Newham Council spokesman said: "The premature death of anyone in our community, regardless of their circumstances, is profoundly regrettable.

"The council is committed to offering care, support and compassion to its rough sleeping community."

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz has set up a taskforce including representatives from the government, homeless charities, businesses, the police and people who have experienced rough sleeping.

A street population team visits hotspots, night shelters have reopened and 38 people have been helped off the streets since August 2018, the spokesman said.

Cllr John Gray said: "Newham started from a very low base and for a period of time did not have dedicated resources to assist rough sleepers with their complex needs or any suitable accessible accommodation."

He added "vicious" cuts to drug and alcohol services and a "brutal" benefits regime had made things worse.

The government was asked to comment but did not.

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