The spiralling homelessness crisis is London’s most shameful open secret. It is not the ‘silent killer’ of air pollution or the after-dark threat of knife crime. We are faced with its devastating effects in plain sight every day.
But while the statistics continue to shock and appal – the number of people sleeping rough across England more than doubled between 2010 and 2015 – one crucial headline goes unreported.
The streets of London are fast becoming a burn pit for mental illness as thousands battle complex health conditions while struggling to find shelter.
In the capital alone, the number of rough sleepers with an identified mental health problem has rocketed from just over 700 in 2009/10 to more than 2,500 last year.
It has led the London homelessness charity St Mungo’s to warn of a “mental health crisis” on our streets.
A landmark report produced recently by the charity – Stop the Scandal – revealed that failing support structures are blocking the pathways for rough sleepers who are experiencing mental illness to get the help they need.