Today (21st May) Brighton & Hove City Council have published a run-down for costings and effectiveness of their winter night shelter for Brighton’s homeless. At the Brighton Centre from 10th December to 11th March, the council provided shelter for rough sleepers during one of the coldest winter’s on record. 30 people could stay in the shelter at any one time between the hours of 7pm and 8am. Despite there being at least 78 people on the streets of Brighton, the average occupants of the shelter varied between 17.9 to 23.3. Over the winter 73 people stayed at the shelter, 28 of which moved into a form of accommodation after staying with the service with the exact same amount returning to the streets.
Over the whole of winter, 30 places were allocated to “named individuals who agreed they wanted to stay there”. The allocations were made by staff at the Street Outreach Service and First Base Day Centre. Women and people with high needs or complex situations were particularly encouraged to stay there with weekly planning meetings taking place “to look at the plans to end rough sleeping for each client.” The volunteers working through the night were involved in aspects of the service throughout the time it was open with their main responsibility being the collection and co-ordination of donations. People from Brighton & Hove donated a number of items including food, toiletries, books, puzzles and clothes.
For each night the shelter was open it cost the organisers £47 per person meaning £1,400 was spent per night. There was no rental costs over the duration of winter but the council have made an official call for anyone with information about a suitable venue for next year. They aim to find a venue which is available for up to a year and want to work with input from organisations, residents, businesses and volunteers. The annual council budget has allocated £165,000 towards the exploration and establishment of more targeted help for rough sleepers.
One in 69 people are homeless in Brighton with over 4000 people being in a form of temporary accommodation. In their statement the council have said “it is understood that the stability of having this facility has had a massive impact on the welfare for a large proportion of those who were accepted for beds.” The shelter was organised by cross-party group of Labour, Tory and Green councillors.
This type of support is very needed in Brighton. The venue didn’t provide showers or a kitchen but hot food was provided to each rough sleeper throughout the night. The meal they received at the shelter was often the only food they’d eaten all day. The shelter also offered a small storage facility to help prevent theft and “freed people from the burden of setting up their beds each night and carrying their belongings around all day.” Without the support from residents and beyond in Brighton, the crisis will continue. Rough sleepers are in dire need of help whether that be through your own personal donations of change or clothes or even just having a chat. The homeless will only get off the street with other people’s help.
If you know of anywhere the shelter could be housed next year, check the council’s press release and see if you can help.