Knocked Back: failing to support people sleeping rough with drug and alcohol problems is costing lives

Knocked back cover

The St Mungo's report: Knocked Back - written to highlight and find solutions to the number of preventable deaths caused by drug and alcohol among rough sleepers - details the impacts of lack of drug and alcohol related services available to rough sleepers.

Some major statistics outlined in the report are that: 6 in 10 people sleeping rough in London in 2018/19 had a recorded drug or alcohol problem; drug and alcohol related causes were the biggest killer of rough sleepers in 2018 with 380 out of 726 deaths attributed to this; and that there was an increase by 65% for the number of women sleeping rough in London with drug and alcohol problems.

Additionally, the report details that central government cuts to local authority budgets, especially to the public health grant, have impacted the provision of drug and alcohol related services. As a result, more people haven't been able to access the support they need and are sleeping rough - which also makes it harder for services to work with them. The report also showcases a number of examples that are already being used to tackle the public health crisis, like the holistic support from East Kent Forward Trust - which had been identified as having good practice such as: weekly outreach with homelessness services, satellite services delivered in local health centres and GP services and structured appointments being replaced with open access drop-ins. The report concludes with 5 key recommendations to local leaders and 7 key recommendations to central government - which cover issues such as Homelessness Reduction Boards, Public Health funding and improving the recognition of psychological trauma among rough sleepers.