The number of people sleeping on Brighton and Hove's streets is up by 20 per cent on last year, the council has revealed.
Brighton and Hove City Council said its estimate for this winter is 178 rough sleepers in Brighton and Hove, compared to last year’s figure of 144.
Cllr Clare Moonan, lead councillor for rough sleeping, said: “There is a national housing crisis and the local increase in rough sleeping is part of a shocking broader trend. As a council, we’re looking at how established and innovative ways can help all those in need in our city, for example by opening a night shelter in our conference centre during the winter months.
“It’s a huge challenge. We’re seeing more people vulnerable people sleeping rough on our streets at a time when funding from government is being dramatically reduced, which is having an impact on services. We can’t tackle this alone so we’re linking with partners and embracing community support to see positive change.
“At the same time, there are many services already in place which are doing a fantastic job and we need to remember how much higher the number of rough sleepers would be without the dedication of all involved. Yet while there is anyone sleeping rough in the city there is still more we can and will do. The scale of the support being provided is not always apparent when looking at the sadly familiar sight of people sleeping rough.”
The annual estimate is determined by Brighton and Hove City Council in collaboration with seven organisations working with rough sleepers across the city: St Mungo’s, Sussex Police, St. Anne’s, Brighton Housing Trust First Base, The Clock Tower Sanctuary, Antifreeze and Downslink YMCA.
The council said this year’s figure has been independently verified by Homeless Link, the organisation used by DCLG (Department of Communities and Local Government) to confirm figures across the country. Full details of the estimate, and comparisons with other areas, will be released by the DCLG in the New Year.
Brighton and Hove City Council said each week, outreach workers commissioned by the council are dealing with up to 30 new cases of rough sleeping.
Since the last rough sleeping estimate was carried out in 2016, the council’s outreach service has worked with more than 1,200 people.
During the same time frame, the council’s housing services have helped more than 2,000 residents who considered themselves to be at risk of imminent homelessness to either remain in their existing accommodation or gain alternative accommodation for at least the next six months.
The announcement of the official rough sleeping numbers in the city, came as the council is set to open a night shelter at the Brighton Centre on Sunday (December 10).
The night shelter will have 30 beds, and places will be allocated from referrals by outreach workers from St Mungo’s and BHT (Brighton Housing Trust).
The outreach workers will also offer support to those staying at the shelter, linking them to services and sources of support across Brighton and Hove.
The night shelter will run from December 10 until February next year, and the council said work is ongoing to find a suitable place for the shelter to run through to March.
This evening (December 8), the Severe Weather Emergency Protocols (SWEP) shelter is also open following cold weather forecasts. The shelter opens in extreme weather conditions, and is run by staff, including managers, from day services.
The Churches Night Shelter also provides a place to stay overnight by referral from local partners to add to the support available for rough sleepers.
Anyone concerned about a rough sleeper should contact Streetlink, which shares information with outreach workers, who can help connect the person to local services and support.
This week Galvanise Brighton and Hove, a campaign led by the city's two YMCA groups, revealed the first results of a survey where volunteers spoke to 125 rough sleepers in Brighton and Hove about their needs. Find out more here.