Andrew Ramage, Pastor of MCC Brighton calls for the LGBT+ communities of Brighton and Hove to come together to make the city safe for all LGBT+ people.
BRIGHTON has the reputation for being a fun place to be, welcoming, open and accepting that’s why Andrew O’Connell, the man who was killed in Pavilion Gardens last month, came to Brighton.
The city’s reputation as the GAY capital of the UK is why so many young LGBT+ people come to Brighton – escaping bad treatment at home or looking for somewhere better, somewhere they will fit in. After all, where could be safer than the LGBT+ Capital of the country?
Sadly, that is not the case for everyone.
Some will be lucky, finding support and help from the LGBT+ communities, a sofa to sleep on, help getting settled, food and community.
Many though end up on the streets, sleeping rough, or being preyed upon by being offered a place to sleep, then having no choice but to sleep with the person offering the shelter.
What would you do to avoid being out on the streets in the winter?
The city of Brighton and Hove has the second highest rate of homelessness in the country. Homelessness includes all those who are sofa surfing (the hidden homeless), those in temporary accommodation (sometimes for several years), those in emergency accommodation (which can be unsafe) as well as those we see sleeping on our streets every day.
Because of this the City Council imposes a local connection criteria on access to services and support, disproportionately affecting people who come to the city seeking refuge for who they are. Pushing new comers, particularly young or vulnerable queer people into potentially predatory situations or onto the streets.
Even if our LGBT+ siblings avoid the dangers of predatory behaviour, they are still at risk of attack by people who target the homeless. And unfortunately, can also often end up on the wrong end of aggression and violence by other street dwellers who either have homophobic beliefs, don’t like people who are different, are wary of the new person or are just jealously guarding their patch.
We are campaigning for an end to what we see as a misuse of local connection in limiting access to support and services, we work with other homeless service providers to ensure that services are safe for LGBT+ people and I hold ‘surgeries’ for anyone who wants to come and talk.
Despite Brighton being a great place to live, these are very dangerous times to be homeless. Although the diversity is fantastic, the level of acceptance is higher than most places, sadly this is only really true if you have money, if you can afford the high rents and have somewhere to stay.
The LGBT+ capital of the UK is not a safe place for LGBT+ homeless or rough sleepers. But some of us are trying to make it so. Now is the time that the community needs to come together, to be truly LGBT+ and make this city a safe place for all, wherever they come from.
For more information about MCC Brighton, click here: