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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Memorial for homeless

November 06 2013
New website to remember the dead, written by people who knew them

A new website in memory in homeless people who have died is set to launch next year, building on the annual Service of Commemoration, which takes place at St Martin-in-the-Fields church on 7 November 2013.

According to Alastair Murray, Deputy Director of Housing Justice, the website will feature the stories of people who have died homeless, to honour and memorialise them, written by people that knew them.

It will also be a record of those who have died for the public, homelessness agencies, the police, medical services and others – and provide links where visitors to the site can get info and support if they know of a homeless person who has died.

The idea for the online memorial, which had long been talked about by Murray and The Pavement's Richard Burdett and Val Stevenson, gained momentum when Homeless Link CEO Rick Henderson arranged a round table.

The site aims to follow the template of a For Our Daughters, a website remembering women who have died from domestic violence. Andy Winter from Brighton Housing Trust, who has been involved in that website, is doing a first draft of the new website – which Murray hopes will launch in early 2014, possibly during Poverty and Homeless Action Week.

By documenting and gathering stories and evidence, Murray hopes the website will "create a better safety net for homeless and vulnerable people, by drawing attention to each death as a potentially preventable tragedy – if local agencies and communities worked together more to reach out to and support vulnerable people lives would be saved."

According to a 2011 report by Crisis - Homelessness: A Silent Killer - the average age of death of a homeless person is 47 years old and even lower for homeless women at just 43, compared to 77 for the general population.

Drug and alcohol abuse are particularly common causes of death accounting for just over a third of all deaths. Homeless people are over nine times more likely to commit suicide than the general population

Deaths as a result of traffic accidents are three times as likely, infections twice as likely.

This year's Service of Commemoration for homeless people who have died in the London over the last year takes place at 11.30am on 7 November at St Martin-in-the-Fields, off Trafalgar Square.

For information and advice on setting up a similar memorial elsewhere in the UK, contact