Earlier this month, Simon Hattenstone and Danny Lavelle won the Features Journalism award for The Empty Doorway at the British Journalism Awards. Here, they explain why their work has felt so meaningful, and why the heartening response from readers
An estimated 800 homeless people died in the 18 months to March 2019. In the Empty Doorway series, Simon Hattenstone and Danny Lavelle worked with Chris Michael and the Guardian Cities team to look behind this statistic and tell the stories of some of those who have died on Britain’s streets.
Wherever we went we could see tents sprouting up. These weren’t happy campers’ tents, they were the only thing people could afford to live in. It seemed to be the defining image of the austerity era, and it felt apocalyptic.
Then, last year, statistics started to emerge about the numbers of homeless people dying on the streets, from the Office for National Statistics and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The stats were shocking – 726 people last year, up 50% in just five years – but what about the lives behind them? What about the statutory bodies or charities that were supposed to help them? What about the friends and families left behind?