Safety concerns and loneliness among issues raised by those in emergency housing

Kendal Court Newhaven
Kendal Court Newhaven

Loneliness, safety concerns, transport costs and a lack of laundry facilities are among the problems facing people from Brighton and Hove in emergency housing in Newhaven.

They were highlighted in a report focusing on the experiences of dozens of people living in Kendal Court, Newhaven, where seven people died in two years.

Councillors discussed the in-depth report when Brighton and Hove City Council’s housing and new homes committee met at Hove Town Hall on Wednesday (January 16).

The report included comments from 29 people from Brighton and Hove who have been housed at Kendal Court.

They were interviewed by East Sussex Community Voice, a community interest company set up by the independent local watchdog Healthwatch East Sussex.

Parents housed at the site were worried about drug users living there, the lack of facilities for children, feeling isolated and a lack of emergency contact.

Labour councillor Peter Atkinson, a mental health nurse, said: “There are different needs. Some people need to see their relatives and others need to be away from negative influences.

“Isolation is a good thing for some while others want to stay with their groups of friends.”

He was struck with the need for laundry facilities after reading that the majority of people surveyed were unhappy.

One mother with a toddler had not been told there were no laundry facilities in the building and no laundrettes in Newhaven.

Another described taking the bus to Seaford which they said made them feel angry, frustrated and “like a non-person”.

Conservative councillor Mary Mears shared her concerns about laundry and said that the homeless charity Off The Fence offered mobile showers and laundry.

She said: “There are organisations that have facilities they can move around.

“We could have a discussion with them. One shower and one laundry would be a fantastic way forward.”

Fellow Conservative Dawn Barnett suggested finding out the costs of a communal service wash where everyone who wanted could have their clothes cleaned.

She was told individual washes would cost £15 but officers would look into a communal option.

Labour councillor Julie Cattell raised concerns about victims of domestic violence from Brighton and Hove, who have support from Rise, moving out of the charity’s support area.

She was told that this would not be an issue in the short term but the council was working with East Sussex County Council and the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner on commissioning joined-up domestic violence support.

There are currently 47 people living at Kendal Court, which has 50 self-contained flats.

The council’s executive director for neighbourhoods, communities and housing Larissa Reed described Kendal Court as good-quality accommodation and said: “People with complex needs often have difficulty sharing accommodation.

“Putting people there, they are able to have that space with no shared bathroom and kitchen.”

Earlier in the meeting, councillors agreed to ask for £250,000 from next year’s budget for support for people in temporary accommodation.

The request is due to go to the council’s policy, resources and growth committee on Thursday, January 24.

The executive director will decide how the money is used but councillors suggested laundry facilities and bus passes as an option.

Bus passes for once a week travel would cost £30,700 when bought in bulk.

The council’s contract with the owner of Kendal Court was due to run out in May but has been extended for six months.