Community News

Urgent Summer alert: The heat is on for Brighton’s homeless!

Besi Besemar July 7, 2019

Sussex Nightstop warns of dangers to young people rough sleeping on the beach this summer.

LAST year, 1,055 young people approached Brighton & Hove City Council for help with their homelessness, an increase of 40% over two years.

In addition, ‘rough sleeping’ has increased in Brighton & Hove by 929% since 2010.

Brighton-based charity, Sussex Nightstop, provides a safety net for young people aged 16-25, preventing them from becoming homeless by matching them with volunteer hosts.

The charity has been working to decrease these frightening statistics and, through early intervention, stop the repetitive cycle of youth homelessness by supporting vulnerable young people who are particularly at risk of becoming homeless, especially when a family breakdown is involved.

Its summer Sleep Safe campaign is particularly poignant at this time of year as, during the hotter summer months, the focus on youth homelessness subsides due to the good weather. However, the risks to young people are more dangerous and threatening during the summer than in the winter months, as they are able to sleep on the beach or under the Pier due to the warmer climate. This exposes them to a huge raft of perilous risks and dangers.

If a young person finds themselves with no option apart from sleeping rough on the beach, it is an extremely unsafe and treacherous situation for them to be in. They will be exposed to many negative hazards and threats such as abuse, potential violence, exploitation and the unsavoury behaviour of late-night drunken revellers. But it doesn’t stop there. The very real and menacing risks to young people who find themselves having to sleep on the beach or under Pier are vast. Harmful influences such as drugs and alcohol are rife and common-place and individuals will suffer from fatigue due to poor and irregular sleep patterns which can lead to weight loss, stress, anxiety and depression.

Through its team of dedicated Volunteer Hosts – who offer their spare room on a night-by-night basis – Sussex Nightstop is providing the young homeless people of Brighton and Hove a safe and secure space from which to work on rectifying their housing issues, helping to remove the worrisome risk of slipping into long-term homelessness or turning to the streets and precarious rough sleeping.

Nightstop’s Executive Director, Alison Marino said:The most common reasons for young people becoming homeless include parents being unable or unwilling to provide housing, extended family members being unable to help or splitting up with a partner, alongside other contributing factors such as tenancies ending, domestic abuse, rent arrears and leaving care.

“To address this important issue, this year we are focused on our summer ‘Sleep Safe’ campaign which aims to raise £10,000 towards helping the young, vulnerable people of Brighton and Hove. Its underlying message is to highlight and address the veiled problem of youth homelessness and how, through early intervention, those at risk can be supported and steered to a brighter, safer future – breaking the cycle of homelessness. But this campaign is just the tip of the iceberg; we need Brighton and Hove residents, the City’s commercial organisations and the Sussex community as a whole to get behind us to help us achieve our goal of having a safe bed available to those in need every night of the week.”

The number of those sleeping rough in Brighton is a constantly changing population and, unfortunately, statistics show that people sleeping rough die younger, are more likely to get ill and are more defenceless and exposed, so more susceptible to violence.

Rough sleepers are defined for the purpose of the statistics as people sleeping, or bedded down, in the open air, such as on the streets, on the beach, under the Pier, in doorways, parks or bus shelters; or in other places not fit for habitation such as sheds and car parks.

Alison continued:When a young person stays with one of our Volunteer Hosts, they can expect their own private bedroom, an evening meal and breakfast, the opportunity to wash dirty laundry, have a bath or shower and we cover the cost of bus tickets to and from the Host’s home where needed. A Befriender can also take the young person to the Host’s home, so any feelings of anxiety or nervousness at meeting new people are removed, they don’t have to do it alone, we’ll be right there with them.”

Sussex Nightstop’s work is already seeing some concrete results. The Team has matched 3,000 bed nights to 345 young people, trained and supported over 70 households and 90% of the young people who have used the Sussex Nightstop services have gone on to secure safer, more suitable housing.

Cllr John Allcock
Cllr John Allcock

Cllr John Allcock said in support of the Sussex Nightstop campaign:We’re experiencing a national housing crisis and the impact is significant here in Brighton and Hove. We welcome Sussex Nightstop’s campaign highlighting the dangers encountered by those who are rough sleeping, specifically regarding youth homelessness, and to raise awareness of the help available for under 26-year olds facing homelessness across the City.

“As a council, we’re working together with a wide range of local organisations to make a positive difference to people in need. The Council is committed to work with partners to tackle the housing shortage which is the main cause of homelessness and work towards eliminating the need for rough sleeping.”

If you’d like to support Sussex Nightstop’s work, you can do this by donating to the summer Sleep Safe campaign. To make a donation, click here:

For more information about becoming a volunteer host, fundraising for the Team or by simply spreading the word about youth homelessness, click here:

If you are worried about a rough sleeper you can contact StreetLink by phoning 0300 500 0914.