The number of people sleeping rough and experiencing homelessness in our city has been rising, reflecting a troubling national trend.
This year’s rough sleeper review confirmed the number of rough sleepers for Brighton & Hove as 178 in the annual winter estimate. The situation is one that local organisations across the city are very aware of.
Charities and support agencies are helping homeless people every day of the year 24 hours a day. The best chance for a homeless person to get off the streets is with professional help. Outreach workers are in regular contact with people on the street, caring for their practical needs (such as food and clothing) as well as providing them with support to help rebuild their lives.
As part of the city-wide approach to rough sleeping, Make Change Count links local charities in an alternative giving and awareness raising campaign.
The campaign has three main aims:
- Helping rough sleepers to access support services available in the city and to move away from the streets
- Asking residents to say where they’ve seen those in need so tailored help can be offered
- Suggesting an alternative giving option to donating on the street
Speaking on behalf of the Make Change Count participating organisations, Colm Keegan, Interim Head of Services, Equinox Brighton, said: “The campaign continues to raise awareness about how people can make informed decisions when giving money or other items to rough sleepers. We’re always keen to say that we’re not telling anyone how they should spend their money, that’s a matter of personal choice.
“We are sharing our experience of working with people in need and know that giving money on the street can be counter-productive. It’s a very human reaction to want to help and to hand over money when asked but this can lead to people becoming entrenched in their current situation when more effective help is available.
“A key part of the campaign is about asking people to say when they are concerned about a rough sleeper. Residents can share their concerns using the Streetlink service which provides outreach workers with the information they need to support people on our streets into accessing services to change their lives.
“We know Brighton & Hove is a caring compassionate city where people really do want to make change count.”
This year’s Make Change Count campaign sees three additional local charities join the venture which launched on 1 February.
Donations can be made at: http://just.ly/makechangecount2018 or by texting UMCC18 £3, £5 or £10 to 70070
All money donated will be shared between the organising charities and will go directly to people sleeping rough. Contributions will be used to provide food, access to shower facilities, healthcare, clothing and support from outreach workers to move people away from the street as well as a wide range of practical help to suit individual needs. No funds raised will be used for administration of the charities.
Make Change Count is supported by Brighton and Hove City Council, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner.
Cllr Clare Moonan, lead councillor for rough sleeping, said: “We know residents care about vulnerable people on our streets and we’re building on the existing support to help provide support to those in need. The council night shelter running in the Brighton Centre this winter is one way we’re all working together to make a difference. With scarce resources and rising demand, we need to work together. The Make Change Count campaign is one way we can all make sure help goes directly to those in need. These charities are doing a fantastic job and we need to remember how much higher the number of rough sleepers would be without the dedication of all involved. Yet while there is anyone sleeping rough in the city there is still more we can and will do.”
If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough in our city, you can use the Streetlink website to send an alert. The details you provide are sent to our local outreach service to help them find the individual and connect them to support (www.streetlink.org.uk or 0300 500 0914). Outreach workers are experienced in supporting people to move away from the streets.
The Make Change Count campaign began in 2016. The most recent phase of the campaign ran from August 2017 to the end of January 2018 and raised more than £23,000 for BHT, Equinox, Sussex Nightstop, St Mungo’s and Project.
BHT said: “BHT thanks everyone who has donated to the Make Change Count Campaign. Our portion of the funds will go towards direct provision to rough sleepers, in particular shower, laundry and clothing facilities at First Base Day Centre.”
Equinox said: “Equinox is extremely grateful for the generosity of local people to the Making Change Count campaign. We have just set up the first women’s only service in Brighton in January for women with multiple and complex needs who are homeless. Every penny raised by Making Change Count that Equinox receives will go directly to a fund that the women can use to participate in activities that will promote their health and wellbeing and help them on the road to independent living. These might be educational or recreational, but will open up opportunities that the women might not have been able to access previously.”
Sussex Nightstop said: “Sussex Nightstop is very grateful for all your generous donations to support those at risk of rough sleeping in our community. Your money will go towards bus savers for young people & adults to get to their host accommodation, nightly host expenses and volunteer recruitment & support.”
St Mungo’s Street Outreach Service said: “Our outreach team is always moved by the compassion and generosity of the people of Brighton who share our wish to help people sleeping rough. This money will go towards supporting our outreach team to help clients move away from the street for good. It will help pay for travel and starter packs when people move into accommodation, emergency toiletries or clothing if needed or to helping someone reconnect with family or friends. Thank you to everyone who donated and is helping us make change count.”
Project Antifreeze said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to every single person who has given to this cause – whatever the amount. You’ve helped to raise an incredible amount. On behalf of the staff and volunteers at Project Antifreeze, a massive and heartfelt thank you. Money raised for Antifreeze will go towards implementing and costs involved with a new client detox programme, as well as supporting crucial Antifreeze operational costs for the coming year. We already know that hundreds of individuals will be impacted positively by this money; supported personally and practically into accommodation, housed, assisted out of addiction and more. Your help means so much to us!”