This year’s rough sleeper review has shown a rise in the number of people living on the streets in our city. The official estimate for this winter is confirmed as 178 rough sleepers in Brighton & Hove, a rise of around 20 per cent from last year’s figure of 144.
Cllr Clare Moonan, lead councillor for rough sleeping, said: “There is a national housing crisis and the local increase in rough sleeping is part of a shocking broader trend. As a council, we’re looking at how established and innovative ways can help all those in need in our city, for example by opening a night shelter in our conference centre during the winter months.
“It’s a huge challenge. We’re seeing more vulnerable people sleeping rough on our streets at a time when funding from government is being dramatically reduced, which is having an impact on services. We can’t tackle this alone so we’re linking with partners and embracing community support to see positive change.
“At the same time, there are many services already in place which are doing a fantastic job and we need to remember how much higher the number of rough sleepers would be without the dedication of all involved. Yet while there is anyone sleeping rough in the city there is still more we can and will do.
The scale of the support being provided is not always apparent when looking at the sadly familiar sight of people sleeping rough.”
Each week the city’s outreach workers, commissioned by the council, are dealing with up to 30 new cases of rough sleeping, all needing individual assessment and support.
Since the last rough sleeping estimate was carried out in 2016, the council’s outreach service has worked with more than 1,200 people needing support because they are rough sleeping.
During the same time frame, the council’s housing services have helped more than 2,000 residents who considered themselves to be at risk of imminent homelessness to either remain in their existing accommodation or gain alternative accommodation for at least the next six months. This preventative approach offers reassurance in a time of uncertainty and avoids more people ending up in dire need on the streets.
The services and organisations are working increasingly collaboratively across the city to be more effective in providing vital support.
The rough sleeping estimate is a key example of how multi-agency working can provide a vital tool in identifying the current rough sleeping situation in the city to make sure support and resources are allocated where most needed.
The annual estimate figure is determined by Brighton & Hove City Council in collaboration with seven organisations working with rough sleepers across the city: St Mungo’s, Sussex Police, St. Anne’s, BHT First Base, The Clock Tower Sanctuary, Antifreeze and Downslink YMCA. This year’s figure has been independently verified by Homeless Link, the organisation used by DCLG (Department of Communities and Local Government) to confirm figures across the country. Full details of the estimate will be released by the DCLG in the New Year.
The multi-agency group pools data and information to produce a list of all those known to be sleeping rough in the city, providing a snapshot of one night to illustrate the wider picture.