THE mortality rate for homeless people in Swindon is much higher than the national average.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed that 15 people sleeping rough or using shelters died in the town over the last six years.

The Adver spoke to a 27-year-old homeless person about his experiences.

Many readers expressed their sympathy and shock when commenting on Facebook...

SAMANTHA JANE: “They’re getting younger and younger. There needs to be some kind of programme to get these people into work and a flat, surely.

“Maybe there should be a cut price on rent or affordable homes for people. If they’ve got no guidance, who will help them? That’s the reason they turn to alcohol and drugs – so sad.”

ROBERT WEYMAN: “I was made homeless by my ex six years ago and still managed to keep working. Thankfully, I’m now in a good place and kept the same job. It wasn’t easy but I guess I’m lucky.”

TRACY DODSON: “Why don’t they use one of the many empty buildings in town to help them get off the streets?”

ROSEMARY WILLIAMS: “Head in the sand attitude from Swindon council. They don’t want to admit how badly they fail the homeless.”

SAMANTHA JANE: “Volunteers and donations will come through if they open up the buildings that are emptied, like Carfax.

“Don’t even charge them rent, give them a good start to get off the streets, have some councillors and sponsors for the homeless with bigger issues and there would be a good turnaround in a small amount of time.

“Something has to be done! The homeless issue is so noticeable. If four people died last year even with lots of effort from the community, it would be shameful if more died this winter. There has to be a solution.”

TINA ARMOUR: “While I would welcome any scheme to get the homeless off the streets, it’s a lot more complex than just finding accommodation.

“Many of them have drug and/or alcohol issues and there’s a number who have mental health problems.

“They need support but the agencies who could provide this are overstretched.

“There are several voluntary organisations in Swindon who help by providing hot food, clothing, toiletries, tents.sleeping bags and bedding.

“The homeless can get a hot breakfast every day, and hot food every evening.

“Yes, more needs doing to help the homeless problem, but lack of funds make it hard to achieve what’s needed.”

JILL CUSS: “Not all people want help but many do. If you are living on the streets with nothing, you may stoop to drugs or alcohol to try and survive.

“More help needs to be given – just providing a roof over their heads isn’t enough. Their needs could be quite complex.

“We don’t know what has driven people to be living in these conditions, you shouldn’t judge if you don’t know the facts.

“If you see a homeless person, maybe give them a hot drink or something to eat rather than money. They are human.”

JONATHAN FRANCIS: “These are normal people who have just fallen. It can happen to us all if we don’t have support, but sadly many people don’t believe or understand that.”

DANIEL ADAMS: “I’ve always said that the Mechanics' Institute should be turned into a boarding school for the homeless.

“It’s big enough for small flats for people to live on-site while the rest could be turned into classrooms and workshops to help them skill up and find work.

“There would have to be systems in place for the drugs and drink but I think a warm room, food and onsite training would go a long way.”