We are a group of individuals from a variety of backgrounds who feel that in a society where the state refuses to accept responsibility for providing services for people with no homes that we are left with no other option than to take direct action
We have therefore opened an autonomous homeless shelter to provide accommodation for people who sleep rough.
We are doing this to counteract the complete disregard that Brighton and Hove Council shows towards those forced to sleep on our streets, the most recent manifestation of which was the closure of St. Patrick’s Night shelter on 31st January 2012.
Why did St. Patrick’s Night shelter close?
St. Patrick’s was run by an independent charity and provided hostel accommodation for men and women as well as an all male night shelter. This night-shelter was the only place in East Sussex where homeless men were able to turn up, without a council approved referral, and get a bed the same night, there are no similar services for women.
St. Patrick’s was taken over by a large Housing Association, Riverside ECHG, in September 2010, which decided to close the night shelter and instead focus its energy and finance into the hostel sections, which only provide for people who have been through the council referral process.
Since its closure, there is now nowhere for rough sleepers to go where they can have shelter from the elements and the stability of knowing they have the same bed to return to for the next night.
Why the council is to blame
To be eligible for help from this local authority, an individual must fall within certain rigid criteria .
S/he must qualify as being priority need, this includes but is not limited to:
- under 18s
- over 70s
- the severely unwell
He/She must also have a local connection which means that S/he has either had a tenancy or a job in the area in three of the last five years; this essentially means that a person could sleep rough in Brighton every night for 20 years and still not be eligible for support.
The council’s local connection policy, which is designed to push rough sleepers without a formalised connection out of Brighton and Hove leaves a serious gap in service provision and causes destitution. The council has consistently undermined attempts by St Patrick’s to provide a service to all who need it and made it clear to Riverside that it is in their best interests to discontinue night shelter services. In doing so Brighton and Hove Council are not only deliberately ignoring homelessness issues in the area but are in fact intentionally causing suffering in order to push rough sleepers out of Brighton and Hove.
The decision to close the night shelter was a political one, as it is in the interest of Riverside ECHG to comply with council Policy if it is to sustain organisational growth in the area.
It is not acceptable that provision of support for some of the most vulnerable in society falls into the hands of large organisations, whose actions are motivated by profit and increasing the salaries of their directors, rather than empathy for those who they were established to provide for.