General News

Brighton Centre opens doors to rough sleepers this winter

Besi Besemar November 14, 2017

Council-owned building will be used as a shelter for people sleeping rough in the city this winter.

A large room in the centrally located Brighton Centre entertainment and conference venue is currently being prepared.

The Brighton Centre will open its doors from December 10 to provide night-time shelter for up to 30 people. Earlier opening dates are still being actively explored.

The funding for the venture was agreed at Budget Council earlier this year. Since then, councillors from all parties have been working together to find a suitable venue.

Todays announcement comes after much research by councillors and officers to find an available space which is suitable for adaption to a safe environment for people to stay overnight. After looking at empty properties and not finding a safe place, the search turned to operational buildings with space available.

Cllr Moonan, Labour councillor and lead councillor for rough sleeping; Cllr Robert Nemeth, Conservative; and Cllr David Gibson, Green, have been meeting regularly to organise plans for the shelter.

The councillors explained: “There is a national crisis in the number of people facing the risk of homelessness and we’re united in trying to find ways to help those in need here in our city. This shelter will help many rough sleepers to sleep at night and provide a safe place to go as the temperatures drop.
“We know residents in the city are rightly concerned about people living rough, especially at this time of year when the weather can be extreme. The shelter is one of many ways we are providing help and working with partners to keep people safe and warm this winter. 

“People living rough on the streets are at high risk, vulnerable and need help. The average life expectancy of a man sleeping rough is just 47 years old – that’s a shocking fact we are addressing here in Brighton & Hove.”

The places at the shelter will be allocated from referrals by outreach workers from St Mungo’s and BHT (Brighton Housing Trust).

The outreach workers will also offer support to those staying at the shelter, linking them to services and sources of support across Brighton & Hove.

The dates the shelter will operate are December 10 to February 11. No confirmed bookings at the Brighton Centre will be affected by the plans. Work is ongoing to find a suitable place for the shelter to run through to March 2018.

The location of the shelter is close to key support services where residents can go for facilities, such as showers, meals and help for their longer term needs.

From this point, the building is being prepared and people eligible for places will be contacted by outreach workers in the weeks ahead. Anyone concerned about a rough sleeper should contact Streetlink who will share information with outreach workers.

Local agencies work together to help more than 1,500 people every year. People are helped to find accommodation elsewhere or linked back with friends or family for support where appropriate.

Numbers of people rough sleeping generally is on the rise and this is reflected in Brighton & Hove as well as many other streets across the country.

It can take time to find suitable accommodation and move people away from a life on the streets.  Many people sleeping rough have complex needs, often relating to substance misuse and mental health issues connected with their vulnerability. The council works with partners across the city to help provide a range of support and services for rough sleepers and improve their circumstances.

This new shelter adds to the help available in the city from charities and churches providing a place to go at night.

The shelter premises are available on a short-term basis with further provision being sought to help more people going forward.