Protest over closure of homeless night shelter

The Brighton Centre
The Brighton Centre

Green Party councillors and activists are set to protest outside the Brighton Centre tonight (March 12) after the council closed its winter shelter at the venue.

Brighton and Hove City Council announced the winter shelter, which opened in December and had 30 beds for rough sleepers, would close on Sunday (March 11).

But it added it was making plans for a winter shelter next year.

Brighton and Hove Green Party has organised a protest from 6.30pm tonight (March 12) outside the Brighton Centre.

Green councillors are calling for a year-round shelter, and pointed to a recent public petition signed by over 5,000 people calling for 365-day provision for rough sleepers in the city.

Cllr David Gibson, the Green Party housing spokesperson, said: “Almost a year after the original proposal from the Greens to open up empty buildings for use as shelters, we heard from the manager of the Brighton Centre shelter at the weekend that ‘it is possible that we have saved lives this winter.’

“For 36 local people, the shelter was a first step towards permanent accommodation and in four cases, recovery. It is great to hear that in such a short time the shelter achieved so much, and a credit to all those working and volunteering to provide services to end homelessness. However, with the doors closing, what we need now is a clear sense of urgency from the Labour Council to provide similar services on a more permanent basis.

“We are pleased to hear that the night shelter helped so many off the streets, but it took the council almost a year to get even this provisional shelter in place and then it was forced to move buildings twice. Work needs to start now on setting up a long-term facility that helps rough sleepers move on to supported accommodation and we must do this in time for when the budget becomes available in April. With homelessness rising and affordable housing out of reach, the most vulnerable in our city should not have to wait any longer for more permanent provision. The housing scandal is a crisis and it needs to be treated as one.”

At the last count in November 2017, there were 178 people sleeping rough on the streets of Brighton and Hove, giving the city the second largest homeless population after Westminster.

For more information on the protest, click here.