Clare Moonan: Night shelter is one way of helping city’s homeless

Clare Moonan is the Labour lead for rough sleepers on Brighton and Hove City Council.
Clare Moonan is the Labour lead for rough sleepers on Brighton and Hove City Council.

This Sunday, the council will be opening a winter night shelter for local rough sleepers at the Brighton Centre.

This will provide a safe space for 30 local people over the coldest months of the year. Once warm and after a hot meal, they will be able to start to engage with our outreach workers and be linked into the city’s support services.

We have had hundreds of offers of support for the winter night shelter from the community which is amazing.

We have had dentists and hairdressers offering their services, people who want to help with food and give warm clothes or bedding.

All this will help to support these people to move forward with their lives.

We have far too many people who are ending up sleeping on our city streets and nationally the numbers are going up everywhere. This is very concerning to the council and residents.

We have a national housing crisis and a private rented sector that is unaffordable for many.

This means for some people the loss of their job, or the breakdown of their relationship, will be all it takes to end up sleeping rough.

Once on the streets people’s health can quickly deteriorate.

Brighton and Hove City Council is working hard with partners and the community to develop a number of solutions to rough sleeping.

Local agencies worked together to help more than 1,300 rough sleepers off the streets last year.

We were united across parties to find a suitable building for this winter night shelter, and we will continue to open our emergency shelters for all rough sleepers when it is really cold.

But the permanent solution is more homes. Until there is some answer to private sector rents rising and rising, a job market for many that is low paid and insecure and a benefit system that is being systematically cut back, we will not solve this crisis.

But despite all this in Brighton and Hove we will keep trying to end the need for anyone to sleep rough on our streets.

Clare Moonan is the Labour lead for rough sleepers on Brighton and Hove City Council.