Community rallies round to support city homeless

Cllr Gibson and Cllr Druitt with Simon Lambor of Matsim SUS-170802-182807001
Cllr Gibson and Cllr Druitt with Simon Lambor of Matsim SUS-170802-182807001

Generous offers to help the homeless have followed a landlord’s pledge to open a commercial building as a winter shelter.

Just a week after Simon Lambor of Matsim Developers said he would open up the old police offices at Hollingbury to those in need, offers of help have come flooding in.

This came after a motion was approved by the council to look at opening up empty buildings for the homeless in winter.

Tom Druitt, the Green councillor who put forward the motion, said a group of artists had offered to decorate the space with murals, a businessman from Bexhill had offered tiles for the kitchen, and local residents had offered their time and skills, as well as fridges, freezers and cookers so the shelter can feed people.

He said M&S Food at Hollingbury had offered food that is still in-date but nearing its sell-by date, and Dex Allen Fire Safety had offered to undertake a fire risk assessment on the building.

Homeless charities Brighton Housing Trust and St Mungo’s are putting together a proposal for the management of the shelter, including support to help people transition to a pathway away from life on the streets.

And The Big Lemon – owned by Cllr Druitt – and Brighton & Hove Buses have offered free bus travel for people to access the shelter.

Cllr Druitt said: “We are planning an eight-week pilot project and have identified that we will need approximately £30,000 to prepare and operate the shelter over that period. We are calling on anyone with fundraising experience or funds available to support the project to get in touch!

“We will use the experience gained from the pilot to enable us to open pop-up shelters whenever a building becomes available, and we are recording everything so we can make a document available online to help people in other parts of the country do something similar in their communities.”