Thursday, 15 August 2013

Homeless in Wheelie Bins!

Perils of Rough Sleeping

Two homelessness charities are in talks with a major waste management company in a bid to prevent the death of rough sleepers who are bedding down in bins.
The government-backed advice line Streetlink, which is operated by umbrella body Homeless Link and charity Broadway, is in talks about forming a partnership with waste management company Biffa to encourage refuse collectors to check nobody is sleeping in bins before clearing them away.  The idea follows at least three deaths of homeless people sleeping in bins in recent years – and anecdotal evidence that the issue is more widespread.

In September last year, a 50-year-old homeless man fell asleep in a wheelie bin and was crushed to death as it was emptied into a compactor lorry. Biffa was not the company involved in the incident. The discovery by staff at a refuse depot in Wirral, Merseyside, was described as a ‘tragic accident’ by police.

An inquest heard that the same month a 48-year-old homeless man was crushed to death after a Smethwick bin he was sleeping in was taken to a recycling plant.  Workers at a recycling plant in Tipton found Ranjit Singh’s body within a pile of rubbish that was being sorted last September.

This followed a 31-year-old rough sleeper who was found suffocated under debris in Ardwick, Manchester, in November 2009, after climbing into a bin to sleep.

It is understood the charities are looking to hold discussions with other companies in the refuse sector to protect rough sleepers.

A source close to Streetlink said:
‘We had shared concerns about the issue – it just made sense for us to put our heads together on it.’

Streetlink and Biffa’s discussions came just a week after South Tyneside Council’s final Commission on homelessness report, which revealed that homeless people were sleeping in skips overnight in South Shields in Tyne and Wear.

The scheme is based on anecdotal evidence as no national figures are collected about the scale of the problem.

‘If it happens once, that’s enough of an indication that it needs to stop,’ the source close to Streetlink added:  ‘[Bins are] not at a safe place for somebody to spend the night.’

Biffa declined to comment.


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