A WORKER at a shelter that supports rough sleepers in Swindon has described the number of homeless people dying in the town as 'frightening'.

Swindon’s mortality rate of 24.6 deaths per million is much higher than the national average of 16.7.

Over the past six years, 15 people of no fixed abode died in the town – four of them in 2018 alone.

Becky Davidson of Swindon Night Shelter said: “It’s a frightening reality of the people we serve and it’s hard to hear.

"We do lose some of our guests and it’s always heartbreaking because we want to see everyone supported and helped to get back on their feet. A lot are sleeping in vulnerable locations, hidden away, so if they get ill it’s not always picked up and it’s difficult to register with a doctor and get appointments.

“Plus, there’s a risk with the lifestyle that some of them have, using drugs.”

Swindon Night Shelter relies on donations and financial support from businesses to keep its range of services running at the Haven, the Hive, the Shelter, and the Gate cafes.

Ms Davidson highlighted the way the NHS and local housing authority set up regular support sessions at The Haven as a good way forward to help those in need.

She added: “It’s not that we need more organisations but these existing organisations need to link together more and work in partnership to share information with each other, bring their services to our users and make sure no-one slips through the gaps.

“We can only do so much. Doctors' surgeries are stretched and housing is in short supply and there are only a few beds available in homeless hostels.

“All this needs to be increased but there’s no funding for that, so support for homeless people often relies on the charity sector.

“If anyone sees a vulnerable homeless person, please call us to let us know where they are or encourage them to come to the Haven.

“We’re looking for financial partnerships from businesses to help us employ more staff and cover the rising daily costs of running the building and supplying food.”

The charity launched a business partnership scheme earlier this year in a bid to encourage companies around town to supply them with consistent financial backing and other support.