THE amount of homeless people dying on Swindon’s streets has soared over the last few years.

An estimated 15 people sleeping rough or using shelters have died in the town since 2013 according to new figures - four of them died last year.

Swindon’s homeless people mortality rate of 24.6 deaths per million population is much higher than England and Wales’ average rate of 16.7

This forms part of the biggest annual rise in deaths of people with no fixed abode since records began, with many being killed by drug-related incidents.

Daniel Abrook, 27, sleeps round the back of a Swindon supermarket.

He said: "It does worry me but I try not to think about it, I just take things day by day and hope things get better.

"I've been on the streets for five months since my partner kicked me out and everything all went horribly wrong. It's hard, it's stressful and it's depressing.

"I survive on loose change people give me, basically. I go to the Swindon Night Shelter on Fridays and I'm trying to get a place at Booth House but it's difficult because there's limited space.

"I think there should be more places for us to go and more help."

Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing and public safety Cathy Martin outlined what is being done to address this growing issue.

She said: “We are deeply saddened about the people who died. A huge amount of collaborative work continues to be done to improve health and outcomes for rough sleepers in Swindon, and anyone who is homeless.

“Swindon Borough Council has recently published a Reducing Rough Sleeping strategy that identifies five key priorities to help those at risk of rough sleeping or who are currently rough sleeping.

“The council meets with other organisations who support rough sleepers to focus on how we can collectively improve the impact that all the services and projects have on the health and wellbeing of all those who are rough sleeping in Swindon.

“In the past 12 months, we have seen the growth of The Haven, the Swindon Night Shelter’s day centre for people who are homeless, which now offers a range of support services with a strong emphasis on welfare."

The Swindon Night Shelter’s services include the Hub, the Hive, the Shelter, and the Gate cafes. The charity relies on financial support from grants and donation schemes to keep going.

Coun Martin added: “We have secured over £250,000 of grant funding which has seen the council and partners develop different forms of support to try to match an individual’s needs.

“These include wrap-around support services for people when they move into accommodation, outreach support which is delivered on the streets, encouraging entrenched rough sleepers off the streets and into safe accommodation.

“In addition, there is increased mental health training for those who work with homeless people.

“Our priority is people’s health and safety.”

Across England and Wales, 726 homeless people died in 2018 - 22 per cent more than the previous year and 51 per cent more than in 2013.

Opiates were the most frequently mentioned substances on the death certificates of those identified as homeless in 2018, with heroin or morphine the most common forms.

The government is investing £1.2 billion into tackling homelessness and its causes.

Threshold Housing Link provides emergency accommodation to homeless people in Swindon and has done so for decades. The organisation was approached for comment but unable to reply before deadline.