CIWM has partnered with waste and recycling company Biffa and StreetLink, a telephone line and website which enables the public to help connect rough sleepers to local services, to raise awareness of the issue of homeless people sleeping in bins.
Many people don’t know where to turn if they find themselves sleeping rough. In an attempt to find shelter and warmth there is some evidence that suggests it is not uncommon for people to sleep in refuse wheelie bins.
Biffa drivers are trained to check the waste containers of their 60,000 commercial customers. Last year their drivers reported over 20 incidents of finding individuals, but there was one fatality and one is too many.
Recently a homeless man was crushed to death in a recycling plant after he fell asleep in a wheeled bin. The man was a known homeless man in the area.
Matt Harrison, StreetLink – “Sleeping rough is unsafe… We hope this partnership will help prevent more deaths and raise awareness of the practical action we can all take”
There have been other similar incidents across the industry and Biffa is now hoping that by raising awareness further incidences like this can be avoided.
“The aim of the joint communications campaign with StreetLink is three-fold,” explains Tim Standring, Biffa’s Divisional Safety, Health, Environment and Quality Coach. “We are seeking to raise awareness of the issue; highlight the dangers amongst rough sleepers of seeking shelter in bins; and to encourage waste management workers and their customers to contact StreetLink if they are concerned about someone sleeping rough.”
Biffa is also hosted a press conference at waste management event RWM with CIWM to launch a piece of research that will, for the first time, provide a real idea of the scale of this issue across the waste industry.
Biffa will be working with CIWM to establish how many people are found sleeping in bins each year, in which geographic areas and what type of bins people are more commonly found in. In the meantime, the two organisations wish to raise awareness of the issue generally to ensure the waste industry is doing everything it can to tackle the issue.
Rough sleeping is on the rise. Government figures indicate that last year there were 2,309 people sleeping on any one night in England – a rise of 31 percent (541) from Autumn 2010, when the figure was 1,768.
Matt Harrison, director of the StreetLink, which is run by the charities Broadway Homelessness and Support and Homeless Link said: “Sleeping rough is unsafe, bad for your health and many people do not know about services that could help. Individuals, understandably, do whatever they can to find shelter but sleeping in bins is obviously dangerous. We hope this partnership will help prevent more deaths and raise awareness of the practical action we can all take. If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough, contact StreetLink on 0300 500 0194.”
Biffa and StreetLink are encouraging the industry to participate in the study by CIWM so that a successful information campaign can be developed for those unfortunate enough to be sleeping on the streets. Sleeping rough is dangerous and individuals often don’t know where to turn for help.
The government report Rough Sleeping Statistics England – Autumn 2012 can be found HERE