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How many more will die on our streets? Investigation reveals nine died homeless in Redbridge last year

PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:36 11 October 2018

The Recorder can reveal that nine Redbridge rough sleepers died homeless last year.

The Recorder can reveal that nine Redbridge rough sleepers died homeless last year.

Archant

A 61-year-old homeless dad trying to return to India but stuck without documentation, found dead on Redbridge Council’s doorstep.

The Dying Homeless investigation by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism counted 449 homeless deaths in the UK since October last year. Image: Andrew Garthwaite for Bureau LocalThe Dying Homeless investigation by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism counted 449 homeless deaths in the UK since October last year. Image: Andrew Garthwaite for Bureau Local

A 52-year-old mum found dead in temporary accommodation for former rough sleepers.

These are just two of the tragic stories behind the nine homeless people the Recorder can reveal have passed away in the borough since October 2017.

But no official body has been counting these deaths.

And, with latest figures indicating that the number of people seen sleeping rough in Redbridge rose by 20 to 239 in the year to April 2018, according to the Greater London Authority, we may have only scratched the surface of the actual toll.

A national campaign by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) called Dying Homeless, which we are backing, is trying to change this lack of investigation into homeless deaths.

They have counted 449 homeless people who have died in the UK since October 2017 – 109 in London.

Charities have been incensed by these findings.

“This is heart-breaking,” said Sonia Lynch, manager of The Welcome Centre, a day centre for rough sleepers in St Mary’s Road, Ilford.

“I feel angry that people have to die in the street without their families.”

Howard Sinclair, chief executive of St Mungo’s, another charity helping the homeless, said: “These figures are nothing short of a national scandal.

“These deaths are premature and entirely preventable.”

The Recorder can reveal that nine homeless people died within the borough last year, four of whom have not yet been included in TBIJ’s total.

Here is what we know so far about those who have passed away in Redbridge in the last year:

1. Saulius Kantakevicius, 46

Saulius Kantakevicius was found dead sleeping in his tent in Tottenham on October 27 last year.

He had registered as a rough sleeper at The Welcome Centre, in Ilford, and would regularly travel there to use its services.

His death is logged in the centralised database among homelessness charities known as the Chain, the Combined Homelessness and Information Network.

A post-mortem found he died a “natural” death.

Balhaar Singh died aged 42 in November last year.Balhaar Singh died aged 42 in November last year.

2. Balhaar Singh, 42

Balhaar Singh was a registered rough sleeper at The Welcome Centre and was found dead on an Ilford street on November 12 last year.

Waltham Forest Coroner’s Court confirmed his death and said there would be no inquest or further investigation.

3. Ryszard Najdek, 60

Ryszard Najdek was a registered rough sleeper at The Welcome Centre and a guest at the Ilford Salvation Army-run winter night shelter in Clements Road.

He was found dead on an Ilford street on November 15 last year.

An inquest into his death is due to take place in November, the coroner confirmed.

4. Sanjeev Kumar, 37

Sanjeev Kumar is believed to have become ill shortly before he died sleeping on the street of Ilford town centre on November 16 last year.

Ryszard Najdek died in November last year aged 60.Ryszard Najdek died in November last year aged 60.

He migrated to the UK from Yamunanagar, Haryana, in India.

As reported by the Recorder at the time, his family were shocked to learn of his death and that he was homeless.

Redbridge Council was set to organise his funeral - as is legally required in circumstances where someone dies in the borough and the family is unable to be traced.

But his family arranged for his body to be repatriated to India.

His death is not being treated as suspicious by coroners.

5. Aligmantes Striukas, 57

Aligmantes, from Lithuania, died from liver failure on January 29 this year, according to the Chain database.

He had registered as a rough sleeper with The Welcome Centre, but had not used its services since August 2017.

The coroner’s court could find no trace of his death in its records.

Sanjeev Kumar died aged 37 in November last year.Sanjeev Kumar died aged 37 in November last year.

6. Heather Chapman, 52

Heather Chapman was found dead while staying in Redbridge Pathways’ temporary accommodation for former rough sleepers, in Green Lane, in July this year.

She had spent a long period of time rough sleeping in Ilford and stayed at the Salvation Army night shelter.

She leaves behind a 17-year-old daughter.

The coroner confirmed that her death is currently under investigation.

7. Yadwinder ‘Soni’ Singh, 37

We do not know very much about Yadwinder ‘Soni’ Singh but that he was a registered rough sleeper at The Welcome Centre and was found dead while sleeping on the streets of Ilford on July 12 this year.

The coroner’s court could find no trace of his death in their records, but his death is logged in the Chain.

8. Richard Robinson, 49

Richard Robinson, 49, was found dead in patch of grass next to Winston Way car park. Photo:Aaron WalawalkarRichard Robinson, 49, was found dead in patch of grass next to Winston Way car park. Photo:Aaron Walawalkar

Richard Robinson, 49, was found dead in patch of grassland at the foot of a multi-storey car park in Winston Way, Ilford on July 31 this year.

Officers manning the cordon at the scene of his death were seen removing bedding from the area and confirmed he was a rough sleeper.

His death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.

A member of the public who is frequently in the area said the victim was a man known to occasionally sleep nearby.

He added: “He was always on his own.

“He just used to hang around the car park.”

He had attended the winter night shelter run by the Ilford Salvation Army, according to captain John Clifton.

It is believed he visited the SA’s offices for a cup of tea the night before his body was found.

An inquest into his death set to take place on February 24 next year.

Kawal Singh, 61, was pronounced dead by paramedics outside Lynton House, High Road, Ilford. Photo: Rakesh RanchanKawal Singh, 61, was pronounced dead by paramedics outside Lynton House, High Road, Ilford. Photo: Rakesh Ranchan

9. Kawal Singh, 61

A man, named locally as Kawal Singh, was found dead at the doorstep of Redbridge Council’s Lynton House building, in High Road, Ilford, on August 27 this year.

He came to the UK from India in 1996, leaving behind a wife, daughter and son.

He worked in construction but lost his job and ended up rough sleeping for nine years in Ilford, according to a spokeswoman from the Welcome Centre.

She said that, while sleeping rough, he repeatedly asked authorities to return to India without success.

Waltham Forest Coroner’s Court confirmed his death and said there would be no inquest or further investigation.

Breaking down the data:

Eight of the nine homeless people to have died were men, one a woman.

Two were British, three were from other European countries, and four Indian.

Eight of them had no recourse to public funds, meaning that they were unable to access state support such as housing benefit or job seekers’ allowance as a result of their immigration status.

The average age of those who died was 49.

How we counted the deaths:

We began by submitting requests under the Freedom of Information Act to Waltham Forest Coroner’s Court, Redbridge Council and the Metropolitan Police.

We asked for the number of people they had each recorded as rough sleepers, homeless, or ‘of no fixed abode’, who had died over the last five years.

The police declined our request, citing that the it exceeded their cost limitation and saying that they did not record this information.

As we waited for responses from the council and coroner’s court, we trawled our archives and asked homelessness charities, The Welcome Centre and Salvation Army, and local business if they knew of any deaths.

The Welcome Centre were very helpful in confirming the deaths of those rough sleepers whose details had been entered into the Chain database.

•If you know more about any of the people above, or others we have not included, and would like to add some information to our article please contact Aaron Walawalkar at aaron.walawalkar@archant.co.uk or call 02084773858

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Redbridge Together:

Redbridge Together aims to raise £500,000 for two projects at the heart of helping the homeless in the borough.

Two thirds of all money raised will go towards the creation of pioneering pop-up hostel Project Malachi and one third to The Welcome Centre day centre for the homeless.

Project Malachi aims to create a temporary hostel for rough sleepers and homeless people using recycled shipping containers on the site of a crumbling former funeral directors in Chadwick Road to rebuild their lives.

The Welcome Centre, in St Mary’s Road, offers wide ranging services from laundry to counselling.

You can support by donating money, raising funds, displaying Redbridge Together promotional material in businesses or offering work placements.

Redbridge Together is an association an association between Ilford Salvation Army, The Welcome Centre, Ilford BID, the Ilford Recorder and Redbridge Council.

To get involved email: aaron.walawalkar@archant.co.uk

Donate £3 by texting LIFE to 70145 or at Crowdfunder.co.uk/RedbridgeTogether

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