Rough sleeping in the city
The annual review of the number rough sleepers in the city has taken place. The rough sleeper estimate aims to identify the current rough sleeping situation in the city to make sure support and resources are allocated where most needed.
The production of the estimate was led by Brighton & Hove City Council in collaboration with eight organisations working with rough sleepers across the city. The multi-agency group pools data and information to produce a list of all those known to be sleeping rough in the city, providing a snapshot of one night to illustrate the wider picture.
The work focused on the night Tuesday 8 November and the results show this year’s estimate figure is 144. The current figure is an increase from 78 in 2015 and is more comparable to the estimate undertaken in March 2014 which recorded 132 people sleeping rough. Brighton & Hove’s 2016 estimate reflects a national trend of rising rough sleeper numbers around the country.
Cllr Clare Moonan, Lead Member for Rough Sleeping, said; “Understanding the needs of rough sleepers in the city helps us to make sure the right services are in place. Key to this is in knowing how many people are in need and where to find them. This year’s estimate is the most involved and detailed we’ve ever done. We feel that as far as possible we have included all the hidden rough sleepers on the city’s boundaries who are currently not engaging with our mainstream services.
“At first glance, the numbers seems to show a large increase on last year’s estimate. The reality is that we now have a more accurate reflection of the situation in the city.”
This year’s figure of 144 rough sleepers is split between 126 men and 18 women. Last year the estimate identified 78 people sleeping rough on the night of the 3 November 2015. Of these 71 were male and seven female. Between 50 to 60 per cent of the city’s rough sleepers are not local and don’t have a connection to Brighton & Hove, in these cases everything is done to reconnect people with services in their own area if it is personally safe for this to be arranged.
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. In Brighton & Hove the council has services and support designed to help those in need, ideally at early stages before the situation becomes severe. This year alone our housing team along with our partners has prevented 562 households from becoming homeless by providing advice and support.
Brighton & Hove City Council is committed to supporting rough sleepers to move away from the streets. Partners in the city, including St Mungo’s, provide the city’s street outreach service and work closely with the individuals identified as part of the estimate. The council has also looked at how people in need of support now often have more complex needs, requiring help from various agencies, than has been seen before. Hostel services are commissioned to ensure the most appropriate support is available, in turn reducing the number of people who return to the streets after moving into accommodation, the so called ‘revolving door’ factor.
The eight partner agencies working with the council on this year's rough sleeping estimate were St Mungo’s, Brighton Housing Trust, Saint Anne’s Day Centre, Off the Fence, Sussex Police, Equinox, the Clock Tower Sanctuary and Downslink YMCA.
Local charities are also working together with the council this winter to raise awareness of how people can help rough sleepers. Five local charities, Pavilions, St Mungo’s, BHT (Brighton Housing Trust), Nightstop and Equinox, have organised a campaign to encourage rough sleepers to contact support services available in the city, ask residents to say where they’ve seen those in need so tailored help can be offered and provide an alternative giving option to donating on the street.
Members of the public can help rough sleepers by contacting Streetlink to share concerns about individuals who are sleeping rough. The details are passed to the street outreach service and professional outreach workers go out to offer help to the individual. Information can be sent on www.streetlink.org.uk or by calling 0300 500 0914.
Anyone wishing to donate to the local homeless charities behind the campaign can do so on one localgiving fundraising page - www.localgiving.com/appeal/makechangecount
The estimate process is undertaken using guidance from Homeless Link, the national membership charity for organisations working directly with people who become homeless in England - http://www.homeless.org.uk/our-work/resources/counts-and-estimates-evaluating-extent-of-rough-sleeping