Summit explores housing solutions for city’s rough sleepers

Volunteers for Galvanise Brighton and Hove, speaking to rough sleepers SUS-170612-110800001
Volunteers for Galvanise Brighton and Hove, speaking to rough sleepers SUS-170612-110800001

Creating homes for the homeless was the aim of a summit this week, which saw 100 people from across the community come up with ideas to make rough sleepers’ housing ambitions a reality.

Galvanise Brighton and Hove is a campaign which aims to engage the community to help end the rough sleeping in the city.

Each table had its own housing ambition to discuss

Each table had its own housing ambition to discuss

On Tuesday (March 27), residents, politicians, homeless service providers, housing providers and those with ‘lived experience’ of living on the streets joined together to come up with ideas for housing.

The reason behind the summit was a recent survey by Galvanise, which found many rough sleepers aspire to having ‘a front door, keys and a welcome mat’.

A number of different ‘ambitions’ were discussed, including: an assessment centre with temporary units; the housing first model (housing rough sleepers before engagement with other services); modular housing (pre-fabs or shipping container homes); making use of empty homes; providing Living Rent homes; an all-year round night shelter; community-led housing; and local providers offering one unit in their existing stock.

Niki Rowe from YMCA Downslink Group, which runs Galvanise, said: “It was really an opportunity for people to think about how viable those housing ambitions were and how we start making these ambitions a reality.

The Galvanise meeting at the Old Ship Hotel, where a room was provided for free

The Galvanise meeting at the Old Ship Hotel, where a room was provided for free

“From that event we will be setting up ambition development groups that are focused around each of the housing ambitions.

“I think the more popular ones were housing first, the assessment centre, an all-year round night shelter, modular housing and empty homes.

“The ones that need a little bit more awareness and work were community-led housing and providers offering one unit.”

The results of a Galvanise survey in November which saw 200 volunteers speak to 125 rough sleepers in the city, found housing often came up at the top of the list when rough sleepers were asked what they want and need.

In response, the campaign came up with a number of ‘housing ambitions’.

Niki said: “What we hadn’t done was really think about how we might implement these ambitions, who might need to be involved, who is interested. So we have come away with lots of notes about what to do. And they will start off the ambition development group plans for the rest of the year.

“I feel like what we have come out with will give us a new lease of life to move on to the next stage.

“We have done really well to engage people in the local community. We want it to be a community campaign.”

Cllr Clare Moonan, lead member for rough sleeping on the city council, said: “The Galvanise event brought together a broad mix of organisations working with homeless people, residents and volunteers keen to see an end rough sleeping in our city.

“There was a focus on both short and long-term housing solutions to give people help and hope. It was a really positive discussion and we’re working with the Galvanise team on a range of initiatives.

“Many of the options being put forward are already being explored or delivered by the council and we will of course do all we can to let people know how they can be involved while looking to the future. There is a great sense of forging connections and moving forward together on this vital work.”

Galvanise is set to publish its Phase One Summary Report of its homeless survey next week. To get involved with Galvanise, visit: www.galvanisebh.org