45 homeless deaths recorded in Glasgow last year
A new report has revealed how rapid action saved the lives of 17 overdose victims at Glasgow’s Winter Night Shelter last year and the loss of 45 people recorded as homeless in the city.
Official figures from the city’s health and social care partnership found that 43 of the people who died were in temporary accommodation at the time of their deaths.
The partnership said drug and alcohol addiction along with mental health problems are prevalent among the city’s most vulnerable homeless people. They threaten their long term health and ultimately, their lives.
The report reveals how staff trained in the use of Naloxone, a drug which can revive people experiencing potentially fatal overdoses, sprang into action to avert further disaster.
In just four months at Glasgow’s Winter Night Shelter last year, 17 overdose victims were revived by staff.
Naloxone is used across homelessness services in the city, as Glasgow, like the rest of Scotland, is battling a drug deaths crisis. Fatal and non-fatal overdoses are on the increase.
In 2018, Scotland suffered a record number of drugs deaths. Tragically, 1187 people died across the country and 280 (24%) of deaths were in Glasgow. A number of the people who died were being helped by the city’s homeless services, as well as addiction services.
The health and social care partnership said it is currently working on a comprehensive drugs deaths action plan to implement a range of action to respond to the crisis.
Interim chief officer Susanne Millar said: “Sadly, of the 45 people who died, the majority of those deaths were related to complex health issues often associated with previous or current addiction issues, including mental health, with a smaller number recorded as drugs deaths.
“Many of our service users who died had previous or existing addiction issues, some also with significant mental health needs. It is the complexity of those needs which contributed to their deaths, rather than issues relating to their housing status.
“The number of lives potentially saved at the Winter Night Shelter demonstrates the scale of the problem. Unfortunately, this heart-breaking reality is replicated in our other homelessness services too. It is emotionally difficult for staff and trained volunteers at the Night Shelter who work closely with service users and whom I’d personally like to thank for their dedication and professionalism in these difficult circumstances.”
At the last official count, there were 29 people sleeping rough in the city. The Winter Night Shelter, run by Glasgow City Mission, can accommodate up to 40 people and in winter 2018, although more people used it, it was never full and multi-agency work at the shelter saw the vast majority of guests offered alternative accommodation quickly.