No Fixed Abode: Stories of homeless deaths in Redbridge form part of new book on the national picture

PUBLISHED: 18:00 17 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:18 17 September 2020

A makeshift memorial in a London underpass. Picture: Maeve McClenaghan

A makeshift memorial in a London underpass. Picture: Maeve McClenaghan

Maeve McClenaghan

A new book about homelessness in the UK — documenting an investigation contributed to by the Recorder — has been published.

Flowers left following the death of a homeless woman. Picture: Maeve McClenaghanFlowers left following the death of a homeless woman. Picture: Maeve McClenaghan

Written by investigative journalist Maeve McClenaghan, No Fixed Abode explores one key aspect of the subject the author found to be largely ignored — how many people die while homeless.

Most of the cases referred to in the Dying Homeless investigation occurred in 2018, including poignant accounts for Redbridge provided by the Recorder.

As a Londoner, homelessness was already a reality difficult for Maeve to ignore, but it was the death of a man called Tony that propelled the author into action, who became desperate to know how many Tonys were out there, dying while homeless.

The author’s tone — equal parts determined and saddened throughout — shows that the severity of this problem can jar someone operating in a profession which forces the eyes firmly open.

Maeve McClenaghan's book, No Fixed Abode. Picture: PicadorMaeve McClenaghan's book, No Fixed Abode. Picture: Picador

Maeve is hardly sheltered to life’s adversities, yet her account shows the degree to which she is affected by what she is seeing.

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Quite soon into her research she made a crucial discovery - that no specific body was logging the numbers of people dying while homeless.

She began collecting a list of names - assisted by Google - of those who had died in this way, before soon realising internet searches were the only source of such data.

Maeve McClenaghan. Picture: PicadorMaeve McClenaghan. Picture: Picador

There was a wealth of data of the number of people sleeping rough, but nothing on the number of those dying while doing so.

Prompted by the work of the investigation, the Office for National Statistics published its first-ever data on homeless deaths in December 2018, while the government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy also recommended that homeless deaths be reviewed for the first time.

Such advances would’ve been impossible without the contributions of all the local journalists involved, including the Recorder, said Maeve.

She said: “The Ilford Recorder revealed the scale of the issue in Redbridge — highlighting the shocking number of people who had died homeless there and, just as importantly, uncovering details of who they were and how they came to die. That work was extremely helpful during the research and writing of No Fixed Abode.”

Buy No Fixed Abode here.

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