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Sleeping in Skips – The dangers of sleeping rough

Sleeping in Skips – The dangers of sleeping rough

Winter is well and truly upon us, for most of us that means putting our turning our heating up and putting some woolly pyjama’s on. For others however, it means just trying to hide away from the elements and find somewhere out of the cold.

Homeless people have been known to climb into skips and industrial bins to try and stay warm, sometimes with dire consequences.

Bins and skips are often tipped into lorries and the waste compacted, drivers may not notice the person sleeping in skips underneath the waste, and subsequently bins are tipped or skips put on top of others, injuring and often killing the person inside.

Biffa, a leading waste transfer company, reported that they found 93 people sleeping rough in their bins in 2014 alone. In a survey where 176 waste transfer companies took part, 38% of them reported finding someone inside their bins or skips within 12 months.

The HSE says there have been a number of occasions in recent years where a dead body has been discovered only after unloading at the waste depot. Subsequent investigations revealed that in some of these cases the person concerned was alive prior to being emptied into the waste truck.

It is not just homeless people who fall victim to these accidents, in 2009, the body of 35 year old teacher Scott Williams was found at a waste removal site after he had fallen asleep in a large wheelie bin. Mr Williams is reported to have been out drinking the night before and had climbed into the bin for a sleep. He was then tipped into the back of a lorry with the rest of the bins contents and crushed, subsequently killing him.

Our drivers here at FindaSkip have reported finding people sleeping in skips. One of our drivers said he was shocked when he went to collect a skip and there was a person inside. He told the man that if he had another skip on board that he was bringing back to the yard, it would’ve been placed on top, which could’ve proved fatal for him.

Waste transfer companies are urging their staff to check bins and skips before emptying them, and homeless charities are reminding people of the dangers of seeking refuge in skips and bins. Alternatives for those who have found themselves with nowhere to sleep include:

  • cold weather or winter shelters
  • night shelters
  • emergency hostels
  • night stop schemes for young homeless people aged 16 to 25
  • women’s refuges – for women fleeing domestic violence

Call Shelter’s Housing Advice Helpline on 0808 301 8901 (8am-8pm Monday to Friday, 8am-5pm weekends) for advice on any of these options.