Make change count
Homeless charities in Brighton & Hove are joining together this winter to raise awareness of how to help people living rough on the streets.
Brighton Housing Trust, St Mungo’s, Pavilions, Equinox and Nightstop are highlighting what support is available in the city for people sleeping rough and offering advice on how best to help those in need.
Charities are reporting a rise in homelessness across the country. In Brighton & Hove, like many cities, there is huge demand for housing. Numerous changes in benefits available to lower income earners are also having an impact on those at risk of losing their home. This is a national issue being addressed at a local level.
Speaking on behalf of all the charities organising the campaign Kellie Murphy, St Mungo’s Regional Director of the South of England, said: “This campaign focuses on getting the right help at the right time to those who need it most and are sleeping on our streets. This could be by encouraging people sleeping rough to contact support services, letting residents know how to refer people they are concerned about and providing an alternative giving option to donating on the street.
“We live in a generous city and 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 are better ways to help and we’re asking people to think about how they can really make their change count
“Across the city there are organisations helping people sleeping rough by offering a way to come off the streets and into accommodation, making sure people are cared for, whether that be advice about healthcare, benefits, work or education.
“This is an important campaign. With numbers rising, there’s no more urgent time than now to galvanise the energy in the Brighton & Hove community and make their change count to help the city’s most vulnerable.”
The campaign has three main aims:
- Helping rough sleepers to access support services available in the city
- Asking residents to say where they’ve seen those in need so tailored help can be offered
- Suggesting an alternative giving option to donating on the street
The charities are sharing their experiences of seeing how cash donated directly on the street can actually prevent people from linking up with professional organisations offering life-changing support. Instead alternative giving through a charity supports projects and initiatives that provide practical skills and advice offering the best route off the streets. Charities provide skills-building, assistance in finding employment and housing advice for young people. These types of projects aid social inclusion and address education needs.
Residents are also being asked to contact Streetlink with information about where people are rough sleeping. 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
Outreach workers also help guide people to the wide range of services available. For example, nutritious food is available, without any referral required, seven days a week in the city from services such as First Base, Project Antifreeze, and St Anne’s Day Centre. Services to meet an individual’s need, whether that be related to health, education, accommodation or job advice are also provided.
Jesse Wilde, Equinox Senior Business & Partnerships Manager, said: “Brighton & Hove should be proud of its reputation as a progressive and generous city. When giving money to anyone asking for money on the street or a charity we’d urge people to ask themselves one question: ‘Is my generosity helping to keep someone on the streets or is it helping to get someone off the streets?’
The personal testimony of Equinox staff who used to sleep rough and beg is that being given money by the public made it more likely that they would stay in addiction. And less likely that they would engage with treatment and housing services.
As outreach workers, we have the privilege of working with some of the most vulnerable members of our community. To work assertively and empathically we need to get to know each individual. The job involves building rapport and gaining trust with people who have often endured and survived a lifetime of abuse and trauma. We see first-hand the damage caused by life on the street.
In our years of working with the homeless we have never met anyone who looks back with fondness on their time begging or sleeping rough. This initiative is about giving people hope and a real opportunity to move towards a more positive future.”
The campaign is supported by Brighton & Hove City Council, Sussex Police and the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner.
Cllr Clare Moonan, lead member for rough sleeping, said: “The rise of rough sleeping is a national problem and all areas are reporting significant rises, with more and more people seeking help with housing issues. People living rough on the streets are at high risk and need help. The average life expectancy of a man sleeping rough is just 47 years old.
“In Brighton & Hove the council has services and support designed to help those in need, ideally at early stages before the situation become severe. This year alone our housing team along with our partners has prevented 562 households from becoming homeless by providing advice and support. No one agency or organisation can tackle this alone and we very much support the aims of the local charities’ campaign and the vital work the organisations are carrying out every day in the city.”
More information about the charities:
Look at the copy of the campaign poster (PDF 3.4MB).
Update 9 March 2017
Thank you to everyone who donated. Make Change Count exceeded its £5,000 target. We'll be running another campaign soon.