Eddie Izzard and Steve Coogan among the stars battling Sussex homelessness at glittering gala

Steve Coogan
Steve Coogan

Sussex-wide talent will join Eddie Izzard and Steve Coogan at the #homes4homeless Glyndebourne Gala to raise funds and awareness for Sussex homelessness prevention charity, HOMELINK.

Classical greats, upcoming young performers, community choirs and established names from stage and screen will be joining staff from Lewes Prison and local people helped by the charity for a one-off gala at Glyndebourne Opera House on Sunday, November 17 to mark two decades of the charity’s work.

Katie Derham

Katie Derham

The Gala will be attended by a number of high-profile guest presenters who each have a personal connection with Sussex:

· Stand-up comedian, actor, writer and political campaigner Eddie Izzard

· Actor, comedian and producer Steve Coogan

· Brighton-based stand-up comedian Zoe Lyons

Eddie Izzard

Eddie Izzard

· BBC presenter and ‘face of the proms’ Katie Derham

· Bond villain and winner of the Sir John Gielgud Best Actor Award Toby Stephens

· Tony Award winning actor and Academy Award nominee Sophie Okonedo

· Death In Paradise and Lenny Henry show actor Nimmy March

· Writer, broadcaster and Brighton & Hove resident Simon Fanshawe

Spokeswoman Martha Robinson said: “The #homes4homeless Gala will be a huge celebration of Sussex talent, involving soloists, groups, choirs and dance. Acts will range from classical to contemporary and represent all ages and social backgrounds.”

Among those lining up will be:

· Brighton’s Choir With No Name homeless charity choir

· Glyndebourne classical soprano Dame Felicity Lott

· Lewes Prison staff choir, including the Prison Governor, for a one-off performance

· BBC Gospel Choir of the Year (2014) The Lewes Sings Gospel choir

· JP Omari, award-winning hip hop dancer, and his Brighton Street Funk Dance Group

· Young dancers from Brighton College

· Novelist and Man Booker Prize 2018 winner Anna Burns (speaking about her experience as a former HOMELINK client)

Martha added: “Set up 20 years ago as a direct response to rising homelessness in Lewes, HOMELINK now works in partnership with partner referral organisations, including the Sussex Rough Sleeper Prevention Project, local job centres, children’s services, women’s refuges, Lewes District & Eastbourne Council and Southdown Housing in Lewes Prison, helping hundreds of people facing eviction and homelessness into housing every year.

“Young people who have been through the care system, victims of domestic violence and people made homeless as a result of relationship breakdown or mental health issues have all been helped by HOMELINK, as have people staying on friends’ or family’s sofas, sleeping in cars or tents – the hidden or ‘invisible’ homeless, now estimated to be 62% of the UK’s homeless total.

“It is the only charity in the South East of England dedicated to helping people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless into private rented accommodation through interest-free loans to cover the cost of landlords’ deposits and advance rent. HOMELINK also provides one-off grants to buy essential furniture or carpeting for a new home, as well as grants for emergency accommodation for ex-offenders from Lewes Prison who have nowhere to go on release.

“The charity has housed 2,500 people through loans totaling £1,000,000 and currently receives 100% of Lewes District & Eastbourne Borough Council’s outsourced budget for homelessness prevention. By the end of July, the charity had approved loans equal to 70% of available money for the year – and so currently risks having to start turning eligible people away this winter.

“The #homes4homeless Gala and HOMELINK’s high-profile supporters are therefore helping to raise funds to help more people into housing in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year.”

Steve Coogan, who lives in East Sussex, said: “HOMELINK’s ethos is all about the ‘haves’ helping the ‘have nots’ – a way of living that I was brought up to value and still very much believe in. The way in which HOMELINK loans are recycled from a housed client the moment a repayment is made to the next person in need is a clever take on this philosophy. Homelessness is prevented by helping people into housing who in turn are able to support others in an ongoing, sustainable cycle of giving.”

Eddie Izzard, who has a long-standing connection with East Sussex, having grown up in Bexhill and attended Eastbourne College, said: “With a quarter of a million people now estimated to be homeless in England, including 210,000 children, the impact of homelessness on lives and communities needs addressing urgently. No child should be spending months, if not years, living in a shipping container or emergency B&B. HOMELINK offers a way out of cramped, inhospitable temporary accommodation – and with a new home comes the opportunity for families to build a new life.”

Brighton comedian Zoe Lyons, said: “I’m delighted to be part of what promises to be an amazing event at Glyndebourne. I’m really proud to live in Brighton, so it’s sad to see that it was listed as number 1 for homelessness in the South East last year. Getting help to people before they are evicted or have to leave temporary accommodation is so important. HOMELINK is doing a wonderful job of raising awareness of the preventative work that’s needed to reduce Sussex homelessness through the #homes4homeless Gala.”

HOMELINK’s Service Manager Pippa Grace said: “We are so grateful to the staff at Lewes Prison, our celebrity supporters and all the performers who have agreed to be part of our #homes4homeless Gala - and also to Glyndebourne Opera House who have loaned us their world-class venue in recognition of the vital community work HOMELINK does to prevent homelessness in Sussex.”

HOMELINK’s #homes4homeless Gala will be held at Glyndebourne Opera House on Sunday 17 November, 3.00-6.00pm. Tickets are on sale now at http://www.glyndebourne.com

About HOMELINK

HOMELINK is a homelessness prevention charity that provides permanent housing solutions for people across Sussex. It is the only charity in the South East of England dedicated to helping people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless into private rented accommodation through interest-free loans. HOMELINK’s practical, financial and emotional support helps clients to take personal control over their future.

Loans are repaid at a rate agreed with clients that they can afford and repayments are ‘recycled’ as soon as they are made to help the next person in need. Much of the charity’s funding is therefore re-used year on year in a sustainable cycle of giving to help prevent homelessness.

The charity helps people already based in the Lewes & Eastbourne Borough Council District (who wish to housed in or out of the district) and people from outside the District wishing to be housed in it. The District extends to East Brighton (Peachehaven and Telscombe Cliffs).

HOMELINK has organised tenancies across East and West Sussex including in Haywards Heath, Littlehampton, Crawley, Worthing and Bexhill.

Visit http://www.leweshomelink.org.uk