General News

Brighton Centre opens on Sunday for rough sleepers

Besi Besemar December 8, 2017

This Sunday (December 10), a night shelter opens at the Brighton Centre providing places for 30 people who are rough sleeping in the city.

The places at the shelter will be allocated from referrals by outreach workers from St Mungo’s and BHT (Brighton Housing Trust). People eligible for places have already been contacted by outreach workers.

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 night shelter will run from December 10, 2017 until February 2018. 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.

The funding for the night shelter was agreed at Budget Council earlier this year. Councillors from the three parties on the council have been working together to find a suitable venue and open the shelter during the winter months.

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

Announcing the shelter last month, the councillors explained: “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. This shelter will help many rough sleepers to sleep at night and provide a safe place to go as the temperatures drop.”

This evening (Friday, December 8) the SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocols) shelter opened following cold weather forecasts. The SWEP is a severe weather shelter which opens in extreme weather conditions. The service is run by staff, including managers, from day services. Due to the complex needs of some clients, only experienced staff and used. When the shelter opens, staff work very long hours to care for those in need and this is not sustainable long-term.

The Churches Night Shelter also provides a place to stay overnight by referral from local partners to add to the support available for rough sleepers.

Anyone concerned about a rough sleeper should contact Streetlink.

Streetlink shares information with outreach workers and the details are used to help connect the person to local services and support.

This year’s rough sleeper review shows a rise in the number of people living on the streets in the city. The official estimate for this winter is confirmed as 178 rough sleepers in Brighton & Hove, a rise of around 20 per cent from last year’s figure of 144.

Cllr Clare Moonan
Cllr Clare Moonan

Cllr Clare Moonan, lead councillor for rough sleeping, said: “There is a national housing crisis and the local increase in rough sleeping is part of a shocking broader trend. As a council, we’re looking at how established and innovative ways can help all those in need in our city, for example by opening a night shelter in our conference centre during the winter months.

“It’s a huge challenge. We’re seeing more people vulnerable people sleeping rough on our streets at a time when funding from government is being dramatically reduced, which is having an impact on services. We can’t tackle this alone so we’re linking with partners and embracing community support to see positive change.

“At the same time, there are many services already in place which are doing a fantastic job and we need to remember how much higher the number of rough sleepers would be without the dedication of all involved. Yet while there is anyone sleeping rough in the city there is still more we can and will do.

The scale of the support being provided is not always apparent when looking at the sadly familiar sight of people sleeping rough.”

Each week, the city’s outreach workers, commissioned by the council, deal with up to 30 new cases of rough sleeping, all needing individual assessment and support.

Since the last rough sleeping estimate was carried out in 2016, the council’s outreach service has worked with more than 1,200 people needing support because they are rough sleeping.

During the same time frame, the council’s housing services have helped more than 2,000 residents who considered themselves to be at risk of imminent homelessness to either remain in their existing accommodation or gain alternative accommodation for at least the next six months. This preventative approach offers reassurance in a time of uncertainty and avoids more people ending up in dire need on the streets.

The services and organisations are working increasingly collaboratively across the city to be more effective in providing vital support.

The rough sleeping estimate is a key example of how multi-agency working can provide a vital tool in identifying the current rough sleeping situation in the city to make sure support and resources are allocated where most needed.

The annual estimate figure is determined by Brighton & Hove City Council in collaboration with seven organisations working with rough sleepers across the city: St Mungo’s, Sussex Police, St. Anne’s, BHT First Base, The Clock Tower Sanctuary, Antifreeze and Downslink YMCA. This year’s figure has been independently verified by Homeless Link, the organisation used by DCLG (Department of Communities and Local Government) to confirm figures across the country.

Full details of the estimate will be released by the DCLG in the New Year.

The multi-agency group pools data and information to produce a list of all those known to be sleeping rough in the city, providing a snapshot of one night to illustrate the wider picture.