Northampton homeless woman death: 'Change needed to tackle terrifying rise' in rough sleeper fatalities

More needs to be done to help homeless people with drug abuse issues, according to a charity boss in the wake of another rough sleeper death in Northampton.

Northampton Hope Centre chief executive Robin Burgess believes the current addiction support system is not meeting the needs of homeless people following a woman in her 30s dying near St Katherines Street on Monday.

"We need to be creative to find solutions that meet the needs of homeless drug users, not as a broad mass of opioid addicts," he said.

The amount of homeless deaths in Northampton is worse than Robin has ever known but there have not been as many fatalities as 2018 which was a 'really bad' year.

Monday's tragedy and a near-fatal incident with a man who had to be resuscitated after a suspected heroin overdose makes the homeless centre boss question the drug addiction service as it stands.

"It highlights the particular needs of homeless people and the real need for the services and response to them to be truly responsive to the acute stresses of their needs, which are not the same as other drug addicts," he said.

"It's the attitude towards it, they've got to find ways out and we've got to have responsive, flexible treatment."

READ MORE: 'Sudden but non-suspicious' death of homeless woman in Northampton confirmed by police
READ MORE: 'Dodgy' drugs linked to homeless woman's death and man's close-call in Northampton
Robin said people who have nowhere to live are the 'most vulnerable' group in society which makes their risk of becoming addicted to drugs even higher and the recovery even harder.

The death this week is thought to have been the seventh in Northampton this year, which Robin said is 'terrifying', especially as many of them have been women.

"It's so sad. It's very unfortunate that this is yet another woman that has died.

"There's a pattern that rough sleeping is dominated by men but half of the deaths this year have been women which is worrying."

The details of the most recent death may not be known, but many have been linked with drugs in the past, and women are more of a risk of overdose than men, according to Robin.

The Hope Centre has put a warning out about a potential new source of drugs which may be 'dodgy', as it believes it is better to work with drug addicts than just tell them not to use them.

"You can't say, 'don't do it,' as they are dependent, they are addicted, so if there are new batches in town, they need to apply the normal car they would apply," Robin said.

"They know to buy off the same person - this is not to condone drugs, this is just to keep them alive."

READ MORE: 'Sudden but non-suspicious' death of homeless woman in Northampton confirmed by police
READ MORE: 'Dodgy' drugs linked to homeless woman's death and man's close-call in Northampton