Shocking picture shows seriously ill man in scandalous conditions in Hackney hostel room

This picture shows a seriously ill man in scandalous conditions in a Dalston hostel

This picture shows a seriously ill man in scandalous conditions in a Dalston hostel - Credit: Archant

This shocking picture shows a seriously ill man in distressing conditions in a Dalston hostel room.

The man is staring blankly at the walls as he lies on a bare mattress beside a sink filled with his own vomit.

His condition looks perilously vulnerable, yet he is not under the care of medical or hospice staff.

The photograph was sent to the Gazette to highlight the appalling conditions some sick people in Hackney live in.

The case worker who sent it said: “The young man in the picture has tuberculosis and was suffering from schizophrenia. For years I have been looking after patients in hostels and it is very distressing.”

The Gazette’s Hidden Homeless campaign has highlighted the scandal of terminally ill patients dying in hostels in the borough.

The severity of the housing crisis, lack of social homes and benefit reforms mean there are often few choices for Hackney’s sickest and most destitute.

The man in the picture is an asylum seeker who had full leave to remain in the UK.

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But he ended up sleeping rough when he became too unwell to renew his papers.

He has now returned to his own country.

In another case, a man with terminal lung cancer and tuberculosis (TB) was refused chemotherapy due to his immigration status, despite living in the UK since 2004 and being a victim of modern slavery.

He died while housed in a Finsbury Park hostel.

The case worker, who the Gazette has agreed not to name, says she has seen people with profound mental health problems “lying in darkness and squalor and groaning inarticulately in their pain” inside hostel rooms.

“It’s like warehousing the most vulnerable, least competent people in society,” she said. “It is truly appalling.”

She criticised a system that leaves little choice but to “line the pockets” of private hostel owners to house the sick.

“It is not as easy as just blaming the local authority,” she said. “Cuts mean that there is no decent housing and the council is forced into using these dreadful places, or having mass homelessness on the streets.”

Hackney Council goes beyond its legal duties to house homeless TB patients during their treatment, the only local authority in the capital to do so. This means they can be treated, rather than dying while sleeping rough.


The Gazette has set up a Facebook page called Hackney Hostels Hotline for people to share their experiences of living in homeless hostels or other temporary accommodation in Hackney. It is a safe space to post stories, video or photographs about housing difficulties. Take a look at


The Hidden Homeless campaign is calling for urgent action to tackle the housing crisis. Sign our pledge page and help us gather 1,000 signatures.