London

Trafalgar Square service to commemorate dead homeless people

St Martin-in-the-Fields
Image caption The service is held every year at St Martin-in-the-Fields during Remembrance week

A church service has been held in London's Trafalgar Square to commemorate homeless people who have died in the capital during the past year.

The names of more than 150 homeless and formerly homeless people known to the congregation were read out.

The service is held every year during Remembrance week at St Martin-in-the-Fields church.

It is organised by The Connection, a charity based at the church.

The charity said the number of people commemorated at the service increased each year. Last year 147 names were read out, compared with 135 in 2010.

A spokeswoman said homelessness significantly shortened life expectancy, even once individuals found shelter, adding that most of those being remembered died under 50 years old.

'Most vulnerable'

The majority of deaths happened once people were no longer on the streets, she added.

The charity said the figures were not fully representative of the number of homeless people who have died in London.

Image caption The Connection charity said homelessness significantly shortened life expectancy

Beki Winter, outreach manager at the charity, said: "Unfortunately the number is always well over 100 and it could be much higher because that's the number of people who are known to have died.

"It includes people across London which makes up a third of all rough-sleeping and homeless people in the country."

She said the biggest cause of death was alcohol and drug misuse.

John Bird, founder and editor in chief of the Big Issue, said: "People are still not realising the extent to which homeless people are at the most vulnerable part of their lives.

"They do die and it gets even worse at this time of the year.

"We have to remember them, we have to do something about it."

More than 850 people are due to take part in homeless charity Centrepoint's annual Sleep Out in Exchange Square, Broadgate, east London, on Thursday night.

The event aims to raise more than £250,000 to help homeless people aged between 16 and 25.

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