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At least seven homeless people died in Islington last year – and a social justice charity has launched a new memorial site to document others killed by Covid-19.
Museum of Homelessness (MoH) has launched its new Dying Homeless Project memorial site to honour those who die during the pandemic, and try to prevent further needless deaths.
Since launching the project in late 2017, MoH has recorded the deaths of 1,468 homeless people and verified the cause of death wherever possible.
This includes people who are sleeping rough, sofa surfing, or in emergency or temporary accommodation.
Among these are 11 people who died in Islington.
Wayne Neary, 46, Keith Murray, 61, Svestoslav Simeneov, 32, and Edvillius, Adam, Mark and Fox, all of unknown ages, died in the borough last year.
MoH was going to launch the site last month – but it has been busy lobbying the government to block book hotel rooms with bathrooms so people rough sleeping have somewhere to self-isolate. It’s also helped set up Islington’s Covid-19 Homeless Task Force, which is preparing food packages for those in self-isolation.
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The memorial site will continue this vital work at a time when homeless people, many of whom have condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are highly vulnerable to the virus.
MoH has partnered with the UCL Collaborative Centre for Inclusion Health.
The team is led by Prof Andrew Hayward and Dr Al Story who rapidly developed the clinical plan for Covid-19 and homelessness which is thought to have already saved countless lives.
MoH’s co-founder Jess Turtle told the Gazette: “There doesn’t seem to be any one body collecting data on what’s happening on the ground, so in recording how and when people are dying we will be able to really respond and through that hopefully prevent further unnecessary deaths.
“Also, secondly, but not less important, our aim is to honour and remember people as full humans and not as people who are homeless but people with full lives and hopes and dreams who were family members and friends. At the moment it’s very hard to grieve for people because there has now been a crackdown on how many people can attend funerals. It’s a very small thing but we hope it can give solace because people can give a tribute.”
Each death is properly verified with the help of larger charities and the coroners office.
MoH says: “The project gives us with a baseline to understand the full impact of Covid-19 both in terms of those who die while being treated for the disease and any increase in fatalities more broadly. We will be updating the page regularly as the crisis develops.
“This is a vital project that will help ensure the rights of homeless people are respected and we hold those responsible to account when they’re not.”
You can help by reporting deaths of homeless people here.
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