How we help people living on the streets in the city

Services and support we provide to help people living on the streets.

Help for rough sleepers

We care about all our residents, including vulnerable people who are rough sleeping.

People sleeping rough are a constantly changing population and the city’s street services work with about 10 new cases every week.

We have many services and support in place to help people away from the streets, but sadly more people end up in need each week.

People sleeping rough die younger, are more likely to get ill and are more vulnerable to violence than those in the wider population.

To help people who are rough sleeping it's critical that we work together with other organisations. We have a citywide network helping people in need.

How you can help

Share the details of people you see rough sleeping with StreetLink. This information can be passed on to outreach workers who can go out and offer support. 

Don't direct people to come to the council’s Customer Service Centre.

If you meet someone rough sleeping who is unwell and in need of immediate accommodation contact us:

  • phone 01273 294 400 during office hours and ask to speak with the duty manager 
  • phone 01273 294 400 or 01273 295 555 outside of office hours and ask to speak with the duty Homeless Persons Officer

Severe weather emergency shelter

We open a severe weather shelter when either:

  • the temperature's predicted to drop below 0 degrees Celsius
  • when there's an amber weather warning

The shelter is also known as SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocols). When SWEP is triggered, the Street Outreach Service will be out on the streets of the city directing people to shelter.

SWEP provides shelter for all rough sleepers in the city. Venues are made available to meet demand.

We're always as flexible as possible and adapt to the needs of rough sleepers. We're dedicated to making sure vulnerable people on our streets are cared for, not just in extreme weather, but throughout the year.

Street outreach

The council funds a specialist outreach team to go out on the streets and help rough sleepers all year round. The street outreach team works with all rough sleepers to offer support and guide them to accommodation and support services.

This service is provided by Change Grow Live. The service links with agencies across the city to provide joined-up personal support. 

Share the details of people rough sleeping with StreetLink so the information can be passed on to outreach workers.

Supported accommodation

Supported accommodation is for people who need help to look after their well-being and keep their homes. The aim is to support people to live independently and confidently.

There are about 500 places in the city for adults needing supported accommodation and about 150 places for young people from the age of 16 years.

Places are available by referral from a range of sources including:

  • the council's housing options
  • rough sleeper outreach
  • social care 

Off-street support for rough sleepers

The off-street offer provides short-stay emergency accommodation in a safe place for up to 30 rough sleepers.

People staying in the accommodation will have their needs assessed. They will be offered personalised support to help them move into permanent accommodation.

The facility is not a drop-in centre. Places at the hub are allocated by our outreach service. Find out more about referrals to the hub via StreetLink.

Additional help

The council commissions a range of supportive outreach services, including:

  • specialist outreach for people with drug and alcohol addiction
  • an outreach mental health homeless team
  • Youth Advice Centre (YAC) working to prevent homelessness for young people at risk
  • Housing First intensive support packages for people with multiple complex needs and a history of rough sleeping

We also partner with a network of charity and community projects.

We work closely with organisations providing day centres. The day centres offer activities, food, facilities and medical services.

These include:

  • First Base
  • St Anne’s
  • Antifreeze
  • The Clock Tower Sanctuary

Latest street count information

Every 2 months, a street count is carried out in the city to capture a 'single night snapshot' of the number of people who are sleeping rough in the local area.

The street count is always carried out at night to make sure those included are sleeping out. The counts are used to increase understanding of the situation in the city and to help direct support where it's most needed.

The most recent local street count took place in July 2023.

The November count is part of the national count that happens across the country each winter. Details of this count are sent to the government.

The national count information is checked by an independent verifier and the details are released in the new year.  

Recent counts 

date of count number of people sleeping rough
July 2023 53
May 2023 38
March 2023 22
January 2023 22
November 2022 41
September 2022 55
July 2022 47
May 2022 39
March 2022 17
January 2022  9
November 2021  37
September 2021 39
July 2021 28
May 2021 16
March 2021 16
January 2021 9
November 2020 27
September 2020 32
June 2020 56
January 2020 83
November 2019 88
September 2019 78
July 2019 43
May 2019 53
March 2019 66
January 2019 30

The regular counts are separate from the official annual count required by the government each autumn. 

The gap between September 2018 and January 2019 in the above table is filled by the information from the annual count held which was carried out during a night in November 2018. The annual count was verified as recording 64 people who were rough sleeping.

Tents in the city

Information about tents in the city is gathered by commissioned services and partner agencies across Brighton & Hove every day.

A weekly review meeting is held to look at:

  • where people are staying in tents or makeshift shelters
  • what help has been offered 
  • what action needs to be taken

The meeting is attended by officers from teams across the council and representatives from partner agencies, including Sussex Police and Equinox.   

Our rough sleeping priorities

We aim to help people who are already sleeping rough, as well as people at risk of homelessness. This includes those who are sofa surfing and living in vans, tents and squats. This also includes people who are in hostels after sleeping rough.

We have 5 main priorities:

  • preventing homelessness and rough sleeping
  • rapid assessment and reconnection
  • improving health
  • a safe city
  • pathways to independence

Our partners

We work with a variety of partners across the city to support the rough sleeping strategy.

These include: