Recession brings Eastern Europeans in London on the streets

Official figures reveal one in seven without shelter is East European

8th July 2009: Recession is taking its toll. It has literally brought the Eastern Europeans in London on the streets. Latest figures reveal one in seven without shelter is East European.

Compiled by a charity, Broadway on government’s behalf, the annual returns assert 4,672 rough sleepers were counted in the capital. The number was up from 4,077 last year. Out of the total, only around 60 per cent were UK nationals.

As a substantial number Eastern Europeans are not eligible for welfare benefits in the UK, they have been largely left dependent on charitable schemes.

The statistics reveal the number of homeless has been registering a steady, but small, increase over the years. But the numbers jumped by whooping 15 per cent in the last year. Among them are the Eastern Europeans without permanent shelter after losing their jobs and with meagre means of social support.

The situation has led charities for the homeless to issue warning of sorts. They believe the number of rough sleepers in London is rising sharply, but the councils are doing precious little to help single people stay off the streets.

It is believed the rise is primarily due to the recession, with unemployment resulting in relationship breakdowns. Besides this, mortgage or rent defaults too are driving the individuals on to the street.

It is also assumed East Europeans, here in times of economic boom but now witnessing hard times, may find it emotionally and financially tough to grab a ticket to return home.

The trend has led to expression of concern, with charities asserting many living on the streets with serious diagnosed mental health problems are receiving little or no treatment.

A survey of 200 homeless people found 85 per cent had been diagnosed for mental health problem or concerns about their mental health. As many as 65 per cent agreed they either drank or took drugs because it was easier than coping with life.

The situation has also resulted in doubts about government’s ability to achieve the target of ending rough sleepers by 2012. But a spokesperson for the Department of Communities and Local Government insists they have made great progress in tackling rough sleeping.

Describing London as the biggest challenge, the spokesman said there is more to do particularly in London. Backed by £200m investment they will continue to work with local authority partners and charities towards achieving the ambition by 2012, the spokesman said.

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