Brighton Centre to be used as homeless night shelter this winter

Posted On 14 Nov 2017 at 4:26 pm

The Brighton Centre is to open its doors to the homeless this winter as part of a council scheme to use empty buildings to house rough sleepers.

A large room in the council-owned building is currently being prepared to be used a shelter for up to 30 people. It’s currently due to open on 10 December, but officers hope it can be used sooner.

The funding for the venture was agreed by councillors earlier this year. Since then, councillors from the three parties on the council have been working together to find a suitable venue.

The announcement today comes after much in-depth research by councillors and officers to find an available space which is suitable for adaption to a safe environment for people to stay overnight. After looking at empty properties and not finding a safe place, the search turned to operational buildings with space available.

Cllr Moonan, Labour councillor and lead councillor for rough sleeping, Cllr Robert Nemeth, Conservative, and Cllr David Gibson, Green, have been meeting regularly to organise the plans for the shelter.

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In a joint statement, they said: “There is a national crisis in the number of people facing the risk of homelessness and we’re united in trying to find ways to help those in need here in our city.

“This shelter will help many rough sleepers to sleep at night and provide a safe place to go as the temperatures drop.

“We know residents in the city are rightly concerned about people living rough, especially at this time of year when the weather can be extreme. The shelter is one of many ways we are providing help and working with partners to keep people safe and warm this winter.

“People living rough on the streets are at high risk, vulnerable and need help. The average life expectancy of a man sleeping rough is just 47 years old – that’s a shocking fact we are addressing here in Brighton & Hove.”

However, the delay in finding a suitable building to use as a shelter was criticised by Cllr Tom Druit, who first proposed the idea ten months ago.

He said: “It’s great news that after many months of hard work, public support and campaigning the council will finally get to work on the proposals to use council buildings to provide more homeless shelters.

“However it should not have taken ten months to get this far and I’m concerned that the council doesn’t seem to be treating the issue with the urgency it requires.

“We need to make sure at the very least that this new shelter is open before the beginning of December and that this winter no one has to sleep rough against their will.

“With many vacant buildings still dotted around the city whilst people are forced to sleep in doorways we must push to put vacant premises to good use.”

The places at the shelter will be allocated from referrals by outreach workers from St Mungo’s and BHT (Brighton Housing Trust). The outreach workers will also offer support to those staying at the shelter, linking them to services and sources of support across Brighton and Hove.

The dates the shelter will operate are 10 December to 11 February. No confirmed bookings at the Brighton Centre will be affected by the plans. Work is ongoing to find a suitable place for the shelter to run through to March 2018.

The location of the shelter is close to key support services where residents can go for facilities, such as showers, meals and help for their longer term needs.

From this point, the building is being prepared and people eligible for places will be contacted by outreach workers in the weeks ahead. Anyone concerned about a rough sleeper should contact Streetlink who will share information with outreach workers.

Local agencies work together to help more than 1,500 people every year. People are helped to find accommodation elsewhere or linked back with friends or family for support where appropriate. Nationally the numbers of people rough sleeping is on the rise and this is reflected in our city as well as many other streets across the country.

It can take time to find suitable accommodation and move people away from a life on the streets. Many people sleeping rough on our streets have complex needs, often relating to substance misuse and mental health issues connected with their vulnerability.

The council works with partners across the city to help provide a range of support and services for rough sleepers, looking at ways to improve their circumstances for the better.

This new shelter adds to the help available in the city from charities and churches providing a place to go at night.

The shelter premises are available on a short term basis and further provision is being sought with the aim of helping more people in future.

  1. Jane Green Reply

    Is there anywhere we can donate food clothes etc to the centre to help?

    • Cllr Julie Cattell Reply

      Hi Jane I suggest in the first instance you contact Cllr Clare Moonan. You can find her email on the council’s website under Council and Democracy

  2. Pingback: Brighton & Hove Homelessness: The Shame Of Europe - Accidental Activist

  3. Sammc Reply

    A dedicated facility on outskirts and a pickup bus permanently needed & legislation to make sleeping on street illegal. Other countries do it,

    • Jim Bowen Reply

      Let’s make homeless people illegal?! In which countries is this law?

    • Valerie Paynter Reply

      I can’t believe you wrote something so callous and flippant, Sammc, about a situation many are completely blameless about experiencing and for whom becoming homeless is profoundly traumatising. Increasingly homelessness is for no other reason than because the rental situation and house price inflation have spiralled out of control so even those in work are disenfranchised.

    • jay crawford Reply

      Well said, Valerie Paynter you said that with conviction and heart. We need hundreds of you and one of
      Sammc.. why one you ask? As we need to be reminded that there are still people like Sammc around with the lack of empathy and intelligence. With biases and ignorant remarks as he so ugly put it, he thinks to solve the problem is to making sleeping rough on the streets illegal. Yup because that will work???
      You are a very lucky lottery life winner Sammc, its only luck that you are not born into such poverty.
      You should have a chat too the homeless and ask them ” how did it come to this” Most young people will
      tell you they have escaped the abuse of some kind, sexual or physical. Can you imagine things being THAT BAD, that you would rather sleep on a cold, wet, dangerous, strange, scary, dark and unfamiliar outside space? Rather than sleeping in a warm, safe and comfortable bed? How bad must it be? The homeless that are in there 30’s are caught up with debt, quite rightly what Valerie described above about rental prices, and have been pushed out of the rental market. Then you have the elderly, mental health issues..and the list is endless. It is 2017, there should be NO homeless people in this day and age. So how do you suppose we deal with them? Lock them up? They would be thankful for a roof over there head, but a criminal record just to screw them over a little bit more? I am pleased you messaged yesterday, it brings out peoples passion when we read messages like yours. It kicks starts an action, it starts conversations and mostly makes us feel so privileged and grateful for what a rich life we have in comparison. The next time you see someone on the street, ask them how it came to this? Spend 10 minutes with them, educate yourself. You will learn a very valuable lesson.

    • Pava3 Reply

      Agree with Sammc. I think that way people would try harder to stay off streets. People should blame themselves for being homeless, not the system. I don’t have great money, but I only buy what I can afford. Even on minimum wage you can live! And if you want more, work for it! Anybody can sit on the street and drink alcohol. I think genuine homeless people will try hard to not be on the streets and beg. And there is so many charities that provide help to people in needs, but I am afraid that sometimes people are just happier if they don’t have to work and earn things.

      • Helen clifton Reply

        I agree with Pava3.Nobody has to be homeless but they are quick to blame the system when they should blame themselves. There are so many charities out there to provide support ,but the so called homeless do not want to help themselves unless it is to shoplift goods to sell on, dragging some poor animal around to gain a sympathetic hand out. They
        generally are happier to beg off people who are trying their hardest to work for a minimum wage to try and hold onto some respect and dignity. I realise everyone has their problems some greater than others, mental issues etc but there is a lot of support out there if you want it. Still I suppose they now have Sundays to look forward to where they can congregate drinking on the clocktower receive a rucksack(ideal for shoplifting) a hot meal ,and a blanket to take with them to the prestigious Brighton Centre which is meant for the citizens of Brighton to enjoy not for these individuals which give our city a bad name.

  4. Stacey Griffiths Reply

    Hi is there any way I can help like give out food make tea and coffee. Always wanted to help the homeless. Can make up beds and help cook if ok please. From Stacey x

    • Cllr Julie Cattell Reply

      Hi Stacey. That’s a really kind offer. Please contact Cllr Clare Moonan – her email is on the council’s website under ‘Council & Democracy’.

  5. STEVE PARRY Reply

    This is a total digrace and certainly not the result of “many months of hard work” other than attempts to prevent adequate resources and it is NOT the result of “in-depth research by councillors and officers”

  6. Western road observer Reply

    Seriously ?
    Stop and observe it.
    1 some of homeless are genuine, but most of them are not.
    Can give examples.
    Homeless person outside waitrose.Not homeless has a place to stay.
    leaving the spot around 11p-12pm to return back to it at 6am, not everyday but often.
    People outside tesco express,western road,no homeless.couple switch one day the byfriend stays,the next one the lady take over from him.
    They are no far from each other only across the road txting each other.
    Old blockbuster building the fight for this spot.
    Lots happening when that spot has been taking from someone that was camping outside of it with an actual tent.
    11:30am they must leave they position to go all the way to the benefita agency in kemptown to get they money/benefits.
    Some of them find cratches and walking sticks to fake their disability.
    Just for minutes later to be safely stored on the top of a bus stop.
    Adding to that the mobs who comes to collect the money “owned” to them for whatever deal has gone through with these people.
    Of course they have to pay as the debit collection team is formed by three friendly looking charachteres that bring their pet dog with them and as you’re guessing that is not a poodle.
    Deals gone through daylight on the main road amid families and bypassing authorities.
    Now the deals arrive faster because they come by higly suspecting cyclists who speed up on pavement when they are high or walk alongside the byke because with so many spots to stop is no point cycling on the way in.
    This situation needs to be looked into.
    Not by the community, but by the people that we pay to do that job.
    Is really hard seen people in distress, it’s great when we can help, it make us feel good, but to differenciate a person in need, in distress or a homeless to a actor is very difficult.plenty of good actors out there.
    They need to be put into a supervised job or find anything they can do not hide them during xmas time so the shoppers won’t see them. And them release them after the project finishes.

  7. ANN KAVANAGH Reply

    Winter measures (ie opening public buildings/churches as night hostels) are not a solution to rooflessness. Councils respond in this inadequate way year after year. It may well appease our guilt to think there is a place for street homeless people during the cold nights of winter, but for many, this will not be an option they can accept. I would suggest councillors try staying in a temporary night shelter for a week to gain some empathy and insight into why shelters are such an inadequate response to complex housing needs.

  8. Cllr Clare Moonan Reply

    Thank you for all the offers of help and support for the shelter. Please email me at clare.moonan@brighton-hove.gov.uk and I will put you in touch with the team setting up the project.
    The shelter is a much needed part of our overall work to address the homelessness and rough sleeping in the city. We will continue to do as much as we can locally and also put pressure on the government to help us solve the housing crisis we are facing.
    Cllr Clare Moonan

  9. Natashabrunt Reply

    I was homeless myself 7 years ago! I lived on the streets of Worthing for over 3 years! I’m so happy that these poor rough sleepers are now going to receive a warm bed! Something everyone of us deserve! I will definatly be helping in any way I can?

  10. Jackie Hamilton Reply

    We want to offer free hair cuts, my friend Shaun is a tip top hair stylist with his own salon. Let me know thanks Jackie

  11. Elle Reply

    How I agree with Western Road observer. I work in a large store in centre of Brighton. Every day the same old faces of the so called “homeless” enter store shop lift are abusive and sit on steps with their alcohol causing families with young children to have to step over them. They hassle our customers by
    actually actually seeking out help see begging for money and please don’t get me started on poor dogs they drag along with them. These people believe everyone owes them something.We all have our problems but we try to overcome them by trying to help ourselves and seeking out help and support from numerous resources available.

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