“Every death of a person experiencing homelessness is a tragedy. Even though the number in Wales seems to have reduced, we think the number is likely to be higher than the ONS figures suggest.
“The figures show last year 78 people in England & Wales died of suicide, and 190 people died of drug-related causes. That’s 268 people who are somebody’s sibling, somebody’s parent or child, who needed help.
“The statistics show no increase in winter deaths, unlike in the general population. This shows that this issue goes beyond giving people blankets and a pair of socks. Homelessness is not a Christmas issue, or a winter issue, and people are not only dying because it’s cold. People are dying year-round for a multitude of preventable reasons.
“The causes of these tragic deaths strongly highlight the need for a trauma informed, psychological approach to supporting vulnerable people and an emphasis on harm reduction, not criminalisation. This is a time for kindness and compassion, not judgement.
“The Wallich has a vision for bringing health, justice and housing together for a strong community response to an issue of national concern. We need action which is trauma informed from all agencies and a realistic and pioneering approach to supporting people with drug issues, because the current legislation is clearly not working. A new Minister brings new opportunities for change and we’d welcome a discussion with Julie James AM on this issue.
“We also need stronger reporting to ensure we get a full picture of the people behind these statistics and accountability from those who have failed to protect them, for those people who are out on the streets right now.”