As the cold winds of winter grip NSW, for those sleeping rough, it’s the toughest of times. One night on the streets is too long, but a winter must feel like an eternity.

It is estimated that 140 people die in NSW while homeless every year – it’s likely that figure is an underestimate.

The statistics on the premature death rate of homeless people are truly shocking.

Homeless individuals in Australia die on average 30 years earlier than the general population, with a median age at death of just 50 years.

Many homeless people do not get access to services to ensure any health condition can be managed.

A memorial service – now in its fourth year – will be held in Martin Place on the longest night of the year, the winter solstice – Friday June 21.

It is an opportunity for the community to remember those lives and to grieve for all individuals who have died homeless, on the streets or in shelters or unstable housing over the past year.

PAYCE Foundation and End Street Sleeping Collaboration Director Dominic Sullivan said he expected large community numbers to attend the service.

“It is a tragic fact that too many people die while homeless, and there is no one to pay their respects,” he said.

“This service fills that void and acknowledges that every life is precious.”

In addition to the general community, the memorial service also welcomes the friends, families, and caregivers of those who have sadly died, including the many outreach and health workers, volunteers, and other community workers who work with those experiencing homelessness.

The service is supported by several charities and community organizations, including the End Street Sleeping Collaboration, the Office of Justice and Peace, Catholic Cemeteries and the St Vincent de Paul Society.

The PAYCE Foundation is the philanthropic partner of the End Street Sleeping Collaboration.