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23 February 2021

We Are With You responds to deaths of homeless people in Scotland rising to worst rate in Britain

The National Records of Scotland today released statistics showing the number of people who died whilst experiencing homeless in Scotland during the calendar year of 2019. The headline statistics are as follows: 

  • There were an estimated 216 deaths of people experiencing homelessness registered in Scotland in 2019, an increase of 11% when compares to 2018
  • More than half (54%) of the deaths were drug related
  • The average age of death was 43 years for males and 39 years for females
  • Scotland had the highest rate of homeless deaths in 2019 with a rate of 52.2 per million population aged 15-74 compared to 18.0 in England and 14.3 in Wales.

Andrew Horne, Director in Scotland for drug alcohol and mental health charity We Are With You, said: 

“Homeless people who use drugs are often vilified, but behind the numbers are stories of pain and resilience, of brave people doing their best to survive despite being dealt a difficult hand. 

“We warmly welcomed the Scottish Government’s recent announcement of additional funding to reduce drug related deaths, with the level of investment over a five year period showing they are serious about reducing the shocking numbers.

“But these figures show that problematic drug use is often a reaction to people’s surroundings. The instability and uncertainty of not having a stable home makes it very hard for someone to address the broader issues behind their drug use. It’s clear the economic impact of the pandemic will be felt for years to come so it’s vital the government does everything it can to address issues such as affordable housing and economic opportunities, with a particular focus on engaging and supporting people experiencing multiple issues such as homelessness, drug use and mental health issues."