ELEVEN homeless people died in York in just one year - five of them on the city’s streets, new figures have revealed.

Data released by the Office of National Statistics in December shows that 40 homeless people died across Yorkshire and Humberside in 2017, but the figures were not broken down by local authority.

However, The Press can reveal that 11 of those deaths took place within City of York Council’s boundary, both on the streets and in hostels in the city.

Alex Brown, a volunteer with the Helping Other People In Need Group (HOPING) - an organisation which helps feed the homeless in York - said he was shocked that the number of deaths was so high.

He said: “That’s quite a surprise to me. I’ve heard of one or two, but you don’t always hear the full stories. That’s a huge number, compared to what I had in mind.

“I would think some would be suicides or drug-related, but that’s down to a lack of mental health support in York.

"People just aren’t getting it, or you can get it but it’s not in York so they have to travel and that puts pressure on them, and people with mental health problems feel safer in their own environment and struggle to go somewhere else for that.”

Tom Brittain, assistant director of housing and safer communities at City of York Council, said the authority was committed to helping the homeless.

He said: “Tragically, 11 people who were homeless died in York in 2017: six were accommodated in hostels and five died on the streets.

“Our commitment to helping people into safer more stable lives continues. Someone dying while homeless is deeply sad, and highlights the vulnerability and complexity of many people without homes - especially those who sleep outside.

“Rough sleepers’ life expectancy plummets from 83 to 47 year while on the streets, which is why we urge people to take up our emergency beds and work with us and our partners.

“We have additional resources available to help homeless people in more tailored ways around mental health and with support into permanent housing, training and work.”

Mr Brown said hostels were not always an attractive proposition for vulnerable people dealing with homelessness.

He added: “The difficulty is you have vulnerable homeless people with mental health issues in the same hostel with people just out of prison and trying to readjust to society and some people won’t go there because they don’t like the idea of sharing that environment.

“There could be two or three different hostels but there’s not the money for that, I suppose, so you’re stuck with the situation as is, but some stay on the streets because they feel safer than they would in a building like that or they don’t want to be around other people.”

York Samaritans can be contacted on 01904 655 888 or 116 123.

'It's a big shock to see that many people died in York'

A charity which helps the homeless in York said the number of deaths in the city was a “big shock”.

The Peasholme Charity started operating 30 years ago to help the homeless off city streets. Over the years, its aim changed to preventing homelessness.

But Yvonne Morrissey, from the charity, said the focus had changed back in recent months.

She said: “To be honest, I don’t think I would have put the number that high, it’s a big shock to see that many people died in York.

“It’s a really difficult question because you’re always seeing a need even with extremely complex situations and preventative systems in the city, there’s always need. You’re always looking for that specialist service with capacity to take on complex situations such as mental health or learning difficulties, people who find it hard to engage with mainstream services, and have capacity to meet the changes placed on them.”

Mrs Morrissey said she felt the council and its partner agencies needed to be “more crisis-focused on people in need in the city and have liaison workers that previously existed, but don’t now”.

She said: “As you take people who have developed mental health or substance issues [while on the street], back into society they need that support to be able to make links back into the community and society and be settled in their own places.”