Support for rough sleepers over Christmas

Accommodation, food and support is available for people sleeping rough in the city who need the council’s help over Christmas.

We will be opening our Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) shelter from the evening of Christmas Eve through to Boxing Day and from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day.

With Covid restrictions again limiting drop-in charitable events for people rough sleeping, we’re providing food for everyone who needs it in our SWEP accommodation.

We’ll also be offering a Christmas meal on Christmas Day and, thanks to many generous donations, will also have festive food and snacks available for people to enjoy.

At other times, SWEP will open when the temperature is predicted to feel like zero degrees Celsius or below, or when there is an amber weather warning.

As last year, our SWEP venue has self-contained rooms and referrals are made through our street outreach service. This is to help to protect this vulnerable section of the community against Covid.

Health and welfare support will continue throughout the Christmas period for everyone accommodated, both within the city and elsewhere.

We’re providing free PPE and testing kits and are working with health colleagues to promote the uptake of vaccinations for anyone sleeping rough – ever more important with the current Omicron outbreak. 

Volunteers and services will be available to everyone coming to SWEP to provide support and advice.

So far this winter, SWEP has been triggered 14 times since opening and has supported up to 37 on the busiest nights. The service has been accessed 296 times by 66 different people.

Concerned about someone sleeping rough?

If you’re concerned about anyone sleeping rough in the city, including people staying in tents, please let us know by reporting through the Streetlink website or by calling 0300 500 0914. 

Our street outreach team will then contact them to try to offer them appropriate support and housing assistance.

It’s important that anyone sleeping rough is offered help as soon as possible and that the assistance offered meets their needs, so accommodation for people on the streets is provided through referrals from organisations who understand what’s available and what support is needed. 

Reporting where people are through Streetlink is the best way of making sure that people get the support they need. This route helps us support people still sleeping on the streets into emergency accommodation.

Expanding support for people sleeping rough

Over the last year we have expanded the accommodation and support for people who would otherwise be sleeping rough sleeping. 

We have increased our ‘No Second Night Out’ model to 50 beds and are providing an additional 30 for more entrenched rough sleepers who may have complex needs through our new off-street support.

We’re also developing accommodation for dealing with additional demand over winter, which will provide around additional 14 beds.

We’re continuing to work with our providers to ensure people move on through the emergency accommodation as quickly as possible to ensure there will always be provision when needed. 

As services recover and reset following the pandemic, we will return our focus to prevention and reconnection where possible. 

If you are threatened with homelessness, please contact our early intervention team as soon as possible. They can help with any problems making it difficult to stay in your home. 

Safe and secure accommodation

Councillor David Gibson, co-chair of the Housing Committee, said: “Our priority continues to be to help everyone sleeping on the streets into safe, secure accommodation. 

“With many of the usual charitable events for people sleeping rough limited again this year, we’re opening SWEP to provide warm, safe accommodation and making sure food and drink is available there for anyone who needs it.

“Since the pandemic, we’ve continued to make offers of accommodation to all verified rough sleepers in line with the Homeless Bill of Rights.

“The additional support we’ve been able to offer rough sleepers is one of the few positives we can take from a very difficult time for many. 

“Having reduced rough sleeper numbers during the pandemic, it’s vital we seize this once in a generation opportunity to move as many people as possible on into longer term secure accommodation and break what for many has been a cycle of revolving door homelessness.

“It’s testament to the hard work and excellent support officers, partners and many dedicated volunteers have been able to provide, that we’ve been successful in securing so much extra funding to help people move off the streets.

“I’d like to thank them all again for their dedication in making sure support is available to people who need it this Christmas.

“If you are worried about anyone rough sleeping, please let us know via Streetlink so we can provide them with the support they need.”

Councillor Gill Williams, the opposition lead for housing, said: “The work to provide support and accommodation to keep people who were sleeping rough safe over the past two years has been incredible.

“It’s devastating to see Covid cases on the rise again, just when it seemed we may be coming out the other side and it’s good to see support is in place to keep everyone safe over Christmas and new year. 

“I’d like to thank everyone involved for their amazing work. We must continue to do all we can to help those in need and strive for decent homes for everyone.” 

Make Change Count

If you’d like to support the charities and organisations across Brighton & Hove working with people to help them find a permanent solution to their homelessness, please donate to Make Change Count.

The Make Change Count campaign links local organisations experienced in supporting rough sleepers and preventing homelessness. 

These organisations, like many in the city, are currently working during the Covid crisis to provide connections into services and help people meet their basic needs.

This year’s campaign has now raised nearly £14,000, with many donations in the last few weeks. Many thanks to everyone who’s donated.

Find out more

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