Local charities are asking people to help rough sleepers by donating to recognised organisations and not giving on the street.
The latest stage of the Make Change Count campaign, builds on an initial collaboration last year. Charities are continuing to work together to raise awareness about what support is available in the city for people sleeping rough and offering advice on how best to help.
Five local charities are addressing this national issue at a local level. Brighton Housing Trust, St Mungo’s, Equinox, Nightstop and Antifreeze are highlighting the practical support available all year round in the city and how best to help rough sleepers. The campaign is supported Brighton & Hove City Council and Sussex Police.
The participating charities say that giving money on the street can be counter-productive and lead to people staying in their current situation when more effective help is available. Local organisations make sure those in need have hot meals, access to shower facilities, clothing and support from outreach workers to move people away from the street to rebuild their lives.
Speaking on behalf of the organising charities, Nikki Homewood, Director of Services for BHT, said: “The Make Change Count campaign is all about getting the right help at the right time for those who are sleeping on our streets. We’re sharing information on how residents can refer people they are concerned about and providing an alternative giving option to donating on the street.
“The campaign aims to help people make informed decisions when giving money or other items to rough sleepers. We are keen to make clear that we’re not telling anyone how they should spend their money, that’s a matter of personal choice.
“We’d like to share the experiences we’ve gained from many years of working with rough sleepers. We know that moving off the streets is a difficult thing to do, no matter how much people want a better standard of living. People sleeping rough are often very vulnerable and have lost confidence to plan for the future because of the circumstances they’re in. Support is needed to help people rebuild their lives.
“We’re keen to all work together to give people the best chance for the future. People understandably want to help those living on the streets, and giving to someone right in front of you is a natural reaction. But there can be better ways to help and we’re asking people to think about how they can really make their change count.”
Cllr Clare Moonan, lead councillor for rough sleeping, said: “The Make Change Count campaign can transform and, even save, the lives of those rough sleeping on our streets. In Brighton & Hove we have a wide range of services and support designed to help those in need but there is always more we can do to help. Working together everyone in this caring city really can make a difference.”
Contact Streetlink with information about where people are rough sleeping is a way to make sure they are known to support agencies offering professional help. The rough sleeper outreach team, run by St Mungo’s, respond to details given to Streetlink and go out to see all known rough sleepers in the city. The team discuss a person’s needs, working with them to explore options to try to move them off the streets and into accommodation. www.streetlink.org.uk or 0300 500 0914
Watch a video by ‘Make Change Count’ for some more information here.