Campaigners flag up loss of beds for rough sleepers
Campaigners protested outside Hove Town Hall to raise concerns about the future of rough sleeping support services.
They are worried that Brighton and Hove City Council’s “No Second Night Out” service is due to end when government funding runs out at the end of March.
Homeless support charity St Mungo’s has run the service, currently based at Hyman Fine House, in Burlington Street, Brighton, and formerly at St Catherine’s Lodge, in Hove.
The protesters spoke out about the safety of the women, trans women and non-binary people who use the service and who may end up back on the streets.
Unite’s representative for housing workers, Paul Kershaw, said that ending No Second Night Out would damage the network of services supporting homeless people, describing it as a “key service”.
He said: “Homelessness and rough sleeping, in particular, is on the rise. Deaths on the street are on the rise. So you don’t really have to be adding a great emotional tug to say this will have very serious consequences.
“We are appealing both to the council and St Mungo’s to get their heads together and make sure it doesn’t close.”
When the council’s Housing Committee met at the town hall yesterday (Wednesday 15 March), David Maples, from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), asked why the No Second Night Out Service was being decommissioned within weeks, with no replacement until October.
He said that staff had told him that not everyone currently housed by the service would be supported – and he called on the council to use its reserves to keep it going.
Unite regional officer Steve O’Donnell said that almost half of the rough sleepers on the most recent street count would have qualified for the No Second Night Out service but all 45 beds were taken when the count took place.
He asked councillors why savings were being made on rough sleeper services when the council had pledged no cuts to homeless services.
Mr O’Donnell said: “This is the only service with female-only areas for women and trans women in the city. Closing this service cuts that provision off.
“They’re trying to find homes for people using this service and are struggling. There is no other female-only area in West Sussex or East Sussex.
“I accept this is a funding cut. This council has a responsibility to provide for homeless people. To cut the only female-only provision is upsetting, worrying and potentially discriminatory.”
Green councillor Siriol Hugh-Jones said that rough sleeper numbers were increasing nationally but going up at a slower rate in Brighton and Hove.
She said that the No Second Night Out service would finish at the end of March because dedicated funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) had run out.
Councillor Hugh-Jones said: “Although it is disappointing the No Second Night Out will not continue after March, funding for rough sleepers with high support needs has been secured from DLUHC and this has identified gaps in provisions.
“The council is identifying pathways to take this project forward and is in discussions with DLUHC to secure additional resources to support the work.”
Of the 36 people currently supported by No Second Night Out, Councillor Hugh-Jones said that eight did not have a link with Brighton and Hove and were being encouraged to return to where they did have local links.
She said that Brighton and Hove was providing 312 units of accommodation for former rough sleepers.
Councillor Hugh-Jones said that it left a hole in support services but officers were finding ways to house women off the streets.
She added that winter support for rough sleepers would continue into the spring – and that the council was continuing to seek more funding to support rough sleepers beyond the end of this month.
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