Beaten up and urinated on – rough sleepers in York have suffered appalling abuse according to a new report.
The report by the York: Human Rights City Network reveals the level of degradation suffered by homeless people in the city. It says:
Most of the participants we talked to who sleep rough said they had been the victims of physical or verbal harassment.
Attacks included name-calling, physical assaults and being urinated on.
Rough sleepers often face stigma and marginalisation and this can severely impact their ability to claim basic human rights, or their perceptions about why access to services is denied to them.
On a more positive note, the number of rough sleepers in the city has fallen.
There were 29 rough sleepers identified in the annual count in 2017, a figure which had fallen to nine in the 2018 count.
The report cautiously welcomes the reduction, saying: “This is likely to be partly due to the increased number of emergency overnight beds available in the city, especially between November and March.
“If so, any actual reduction in rough-sleeper homelessness may be much lower.”
Food bank use rises
Food bank referrals in York went up by more than a quarter, according to The Trussell Trust – but that may only tell part of the story.
A significant proportion of referrals relate “to benefit changes, delays or sanctions” says the York Human Rights Indicator report.
The report adds: “Although this tells us that food poverty and insecurity are increasing, it doesn’t give the true scale of the problem.
“These figures don’t include independent foodbank projects in the city (e.g. through community centres), and there is no comprehensive data on numbers of people using free or pay-as-you-feel meals.”
How long will you live?
This shows a big variation across the city. The report says:
The graph demonstrates a clear correlation between poverty and life expectancy, with people living in the more deprived wards (towards the top of the graph) likely to die at a younger age than those in the more affluent wards (towards the bottom of the graph).