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Jake Humm's death fills me with anger and despair – thousands like him are at risk

3 13 0
24.09.2019

It is every parent’s deepest fear that they might lose their child. When that child is in supported living, and supposedly being looked after, losing them is not only a heartbreak, it feels like a betrayal.

The story of Jake Humm, a talented young musician, fills me with despair and anger, not just because of his early and unnecessary death, but because it appears there were so many warning signs of his deteriorating state, and not enough done to protect him. It is tragic that he was only discovered in his room by staff two days after his death.

I am angry, too, at the continuing toll of deaths in sheltered accommodation in Brighton and the surrounding area, where 31 homeless people temporarily housed by the council have died in only two years.

If this number of deaths was happening among any other sector of the population, it would be a national scandal, dominating the front pages. Instead, it is barely mentioned. It seems we don’t just walk past people living on the streets; we ignore their deaths as well.

Jake was one of my constituents. He was living in supported accommodation provided by a local YMCA which works across Sussex and beyond, housing more than 700 young people with different levels of need, many of whom have experienced homelessness.

Their needs are complex: mental ill health, drug and alcohol abuse, low self-esteem. They need intensive support as they move to more independent living within the YMCA. Jake was known to local service providers, including the YMCA, and questions need to be asked about why he wasn’t getting the level of support he needed. Ultimately, he was badly let down.

The issue........

© The Guardian