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Brighton Journal | July 15, 2019

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Council Announces Help For The City’s Rough Sleepers

Council Announces Help For The City’s Rough Sleepers
Hannah Midgley

More support and expanded services have been announced by Brighton & Hove City Council to help the city’s rough sleepers.

Brighton & Hove currently has the second highest number of rough sleepers in England, behind Westminster. This is a figure which has risen significantly since 2010 and an increase that is reflected nationally.

Official rough sleeper estimates take place annually, and the figures are based on information gathered on one night, usually in November, collated in conjunction with partners across the city. The local estimate is then independently verified by Homeless Link, the organisation used by MHCLG to confirm figures across the country.

The official numbers of rough sleepers in the city in recent years were, 78 in 2015, 144 in 2016, and 178 in 2017.

To complement the range of help already available for rough sleepers in the city, four key additions being introduced in Brighton & Hove, which are:

A rough sleeping hub, a winter shelter at the Brighton Centre, SWEP (severe weather emergency provision) shelter, and Support for the Churches’ Night Shelter.

The new rough sleeping hub will be opening this week to provide a safe place for up to 17 rough sleepers. The aim is to act swiftly as a short term intervention when people start rough sleeping and to find out how best to help.

Places at the hub will be allocated by referral from the council’s outreach service, St Mungo’s, and the hub will be managed by Brighton Housing Trust. People staying at the hub will have their needs assessed to develop plans to move them away from the streets.

Funding for the hub has been provided for nine months directly from Brighton & Hove City Council and also a successful bid by the council for a grant from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

A winter shelter at the Brighton Centre (pictured below) will open this winter for the second year, from November 2018 to mid-March 2019, providing a night shelter for rough sleepers. Following evaluation of the 2017/18 shelter experience, the shelter will continue to have space for 30 people and places will be allocated by referral from the council’s outreach service, St Mungo’s.

The Brighton Centre offers rough sleepers in the city a warm welcome and a warm bed in the winter months. Photo via Tom Druitt Twitter account: @tomdruitt

A more flexible trigger for the opening of SWEP (severe weather emergency provision) has also been introduced. SWEP provides shelter in extreme weather and can be opened at any time of the year if there is need, not only in winter.

The primary aim of SWEP is to save lives and the shelter is available to all in need when open.

The new trigger for SWEP is that the shelter will open when one night ‘feels like a temperature’ of zero degrees or below or when amber weather warnings are issued by the Met Office. This is considerably lower than previous triggers, even given reductions in recent years, and will lead to SWEP being open more often.

Also receiving support is the Churches’ Night Shelter, which is an independent shelter run at various locations by volunteers. It has space for 15 beds when open. The council has allocated funding from a successful bid for a government grant to support the shelter. This funding has increased the number of dates the shelter can be open for, which is due to run for five months this winter.

Committed to helping the vulnerable on our streets and those at risk of homelessness, the council’s lead member for rough sleeping, Councillor Clare Moonan, said: “In our city we can see the terrible impact of the national rise in rough sleeping. People are suffering on our streets and rough sleeping is not a safe existence.

“There are many services providing vital help and we’re working with partners to build on the provision already in place.

“In the coming months, we will be setting up a new rough sleeper assessment hub with sleeping space, opening a winter night shelter at the Brighton Centre for the second year running, supporting the Churches’ Night Shelter and making it possible for the SWEP (severe weather emergency provision) shelter to open more often.

“At the same time we’re also experiencing a serious housing crisis in the city, with demand for accommodation higher than ever before, which we can’t ignore in the context of supporting rough sleepers. A major part of the support offered is around understanding what people’s existing accommodation options may be, either inside or outside of the city. There is sometimes more suitable accommodation away from the city where we are already experiencing many pressures, especially for those who have recently arrived.

“We will always however treat everyone as individuals and look at their unique needs. We are dedicated to helping rough sleepers in our city and doing all we can to keep people safe.”

You can find out more information about how Brighton & Hove City Council helps rough sleepers in the city here.

Featured image via Google Creative Commons.

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