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How many older people are sleeping rough?

In 1996 there were between 273-389 people sleeping rough in Central London.

It is estimated that up to 39% of this population were aged 50+ representing up to 140 older homeless people sleeping rough. In the rest of England and Wales it has been estimated that up to 560 older homeless people (50+) are sleeping rough. This provides an estimated total of around 700 older people sleeping rough in England and Wales as a whole.

Are older people more vulnerable on the streets?

Some older people avoid using day centres or hostels due to a fear that they may be assaulted or robbed.

News

For the latest news, events and developments impacting on older homeless people turn to this section. If you have news items to contribute please let us know through our contact page.

Information

Facts and figures, publications, bibliography and links to related websites.

Supporting People

The Coalition is working towards better recognition of older homeless people in Supporting People strategies. A report has been published which explores the opportunities for older homeless people under Supporting People.

Membership

Details of how to join the Coalition, agendas and minutes of meetings, and a list of member organisations.

How many older people are living in hostels?

Surveys of hostels carried out in London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester found that 26-35% of residents are over the age of 50 In Glasgow in 1996 there were only 86 homeless people housed through emergency statutory services. However, in January 1997, there were 641 people over 55 in temporary hostels and hotels representing 35% of the hostel population; at least 12 older men were known to be sleeping rough

The lack of suitable move-on accommodation for older people means that they spend longer in short stay hostels than other groups. Research in London found that 30% of hostel residents had been in short term hostel beds for over a year.

In 1997 it was estimated that up to 4,980 referred themselves to bed and breakfast hostels in Greater London. In the rest of England and Wales it was estimated that up to 21,960 older homeless people (50+) were self-referrals to bed and breakfast accommodation and did not appear in official statistics. This provides a total of 26,940 living 'unofficially' in bed and breakfast in England and Wales .

The Coalition will seek further support for its policy objectives over the coming year and is determined that the problems experienced by older people should be given a higher profile across the UK. The Coalition has asked politicians and policymakers to sign the following statement.

Newsletter

So far three specialist newsletters have gone out to over 800 homelessness organisations. The newsletter has identified specific areas of homelessness policy of relevance to older people and has explored campaign themes such as resettlement and street outreach work with the help of experts in these fields. In future we will improve the quality and regularity of the newsletter, which we hope will encourage older homelessness services to communicate with each other and share their expertise.

Conclusions

Based on the statistical information outlined above we can roughly estimate that up to 48,000 older people are unofficially homeless in England and Wales. In Northern Ireland over 4% of acceptances were of older people However, guidance to local authorities suggests that 'old age' should be defined as people aged 60+, although some local authorities may consider people aged 50+. This means that many older people over 50 may not be accepted as homeless due to old age depending on the interpretation of individual local authorities There is a lack of awareness of older homelessness as a specific aspect of the overall problem. An analysis of Hansard showed that between October 1998 and July 2000, there were 326 items on homelessness, of which 24% referred to young people, yet less than one per cent made any reference at all to older people.