Love Activists Brighton, the local offshoot of the original Love Activists direct action group in London, and the group behind the Clock Tower’s Love Kitchen, a direct action campaign to redistribute hot drinks, food donations and surplus food to those left hungry and without housing, have teamed up with Brighton Homelessness Action Group. The pairing have worked together on an agenda and have submitted two questions to be heard at the upcoming Housing & New Homes Committee meeting at the council.
QUESTION ONE by a rep from Brighton Homelessness Action Group:
“Taking into account all of the deaths of homeless human beings on our streets, when will the local authority start to apply the ‘Extended Winter Provision’ for those living on our streets by opening shelters every night throughout the winter from November to March, as advised by the Homeless Link Guidance to prevent the loss of even more lives on our streets? Although, severe weather can arise outside of these months so shelter/new homes are needed all year round as a longterm solution.”
QUESTION TWO by a rep from Love Activists Brighton:
“When will the local authority adhere to the change in law made by the supreme court of law in May 2015 with regard to the vulnerability assessment of those who are homeless?”
The Supreme Court case was very important, as it was the first time the meaning of vulnerability had been considered by the highest court in the land, and as a result the previous vulnerability test, known as the ‘Pereira test’, was modified to ensure relevant homelessness and equalities legislation, and guidance is properly applied.
Local authorities must now consider each applicant individually and base the assessment on the unique characteristics of the person they are assessing. It means that an assessment must be carefully conducted, with all circumstances and conditions of the applicant taken together as a complete picture. The local authority must also assess the person and any of their vulnerabilities compared with an ‘ordinary person’ at risk of being made homeless and not someone who is already homeless. When making the assessment, the authority must apply the law and not general terms or definitions which have evolved over the years.
We recently covered a story on the European End Street Homelessness Campaign expanding to Brighton & Hove, a movement looking to reframe the collective vision of solutions to homelessness from managing the issue to ending the issue of rough sleeping and insecure housing. The movement’s first step in any new venture is to comprehensively speak to and survey the homeless population of the city they are working in to find out about the specific issues and barriers facing those left in the cold in the city.
Such a project aims to build a clear picture of the particular state of homelessness in Brighton, and alongside the campaign being posited by Love Activists Brighton and Brighton Homelessness Action Group to ensure the legal adherence to vulnerability assessments of those who are homeless, should start to make a real difference to the lives of those who spend their nights and days on Brighton’s streets, or in a state of perpetual uncertainty.