Ways to help and support rough sleepers in our city

Clare Moonan is Lead Member for Homelessness
Clare Moonan is Lead Member for Homelessness

I was proud to chair the city’s first Rough Sleeper Summit last Friday.

I was proud to chair the city’s first Rough Sleeper Summit last Friday, where we had fantastic engagement from a wide range of statutory and voluntary partners.

We all put our heads together to develop some creative ideas about how to address what is a major concern for the city.

People sleeping rough suffer much poorer health than the general population, with a life expectancy of less than 50 years, and are much more likely to be victims of violence and crime.

Shortly after I was elected in May I was appointed as the council lead member for rough sleeping. I was aware of many of the issues around homelessness, and I had managed a rough sleeping health project in the past, but I was not aware of just how many people we have locally - just under 80 people when we took an estimate one night in November and well over 1,000 people a year.

I have visited many of the organisations who are providing services for rough sleepers and have been hugely impressed, in particular when I joined St Mungo’s Broadway at 6am on a dark rainy morning to take part in their street shift to engage rough sleepers.

If we are going to achieve our vision of ensuring no-one has the need to sleep rough in Brighton and Hove by 2020 we need to look at measures to prevent people sleeping rough, services that provide support to people on the streets and approaches to help people move on from rough sleeping in a sustained way.

We have a consultation out at present and would like to hear from anyone with ideas of what we should be doing. To take part, visit: consult.brighton-hove.gov.uk/portal/bhcc/housing/rough_sleeping/rough_sleeping_position_paper

Many people in the city want to help rough sleepers personally, particularly as it gets cold, but they are not sure how best to do this. So we have launched a winter rough sleepers campaign.

If you see someone sleeping out please call Street Link on 0300 500 0914, or use the simple online method at www.streetlink.org.uk, and our outreach service will be alerted immediately.

Secondly, we are asking people to make donations via St Mungo’s Broadway, the charity which provides outreach care in Brighton and Hove for rough sleepers.

Donations can be made through a fundraising page to ensure the money raised is dedicated for the city’s rough sleepers. Visit: campaign.justgiving.com/charity/mungosbroadway/helpmakechangecount

It is going to be a challenge to prevent rough sleeping, particularly at a time when resources are scarce and demand is rising.

We are concerned that the impact of welfare reforms will make more people homeless. With the council having to make millions of pounds in savings we are going to need to look at how we can work together.

But if we build on existing provision and work with our partners to see an effective city-wide approach for the future, we should ensure that everyone in our city has that most basic of needs, a safe and secure home.

Clare Moonan is Lead Member for Homelessness

Brighton and Hove City Council, Kings House, Grand Avenue, Hove, BN3 2LS.

Clare.Moonan@brighton-hove.gov.uk  @CCmoonan