Sussex based charity Southdown, one of the largest support providers for vulnerable people in Sussex, has been commissioned by Brighton and Hove City Council to provide a new service called Community Connections which will offer support to those at risk of homelessness.
Community Connections aims to stop the revolving door of homelessness in Brighton and Hove for over 120 people at any one time, with an estimated total of 300 clients being supported over the year. It will help people to stay in their existing accommodation by working with landlords and housing agencies to prevent eviction. A range of support services will be provided including wellbeing and mental health, and practical help to support people settle and sustain new tenancies throughout the city.
Southdown is a specialist housing, care and support organisation which delivers a range of tailored services to over 8,500 vulnerable local people each year to help them live their lives to the full. In November 2014 Brighton and Hove recorded the 5th highest rough sleeping figures in England.
Sarah Bray, Manager of Community Connections at Southdown, says: “We are very pleased to have been awarded this contract. Southdown has been running as a not-for-profit specialist provider of care, support and housing services for vulnerable people throughout Sussex for 43 years, having grown into a robust and experienced organisation ready to take on new challenges at a time when Brighton and Hove is witnessing increased levels of homelessness.
“We understand that the situation calls for intervention and prevention because the severe lack of affordable housing, coupled with further changes to welfare benefits, will make it even harder to maintain tenancies.”
As well as an increase in people sleeping rough in the city, Community Connections will also be tackling the health issues faced by homeless people in the city. The Brighton and Hove Homeless Health Needs Audit 2014 – a survey which interviewed rough sleepers, those in hostels, supported accommodation and floating support services – found that over 80 per cent reported at least one physical and mental health issue and 73 per cent reported their mental health issue had been ongoing for 12 months or more.
Tom Scanlon, Director of Public Health for Brighton and Hove City Council, says:
“Few people in the city will have failed to notice the numbers of homelessness people in our streets. Homeless people suffer significant mental and physical ill health and discrimination, and it has been estimated that their average age of death is just 47 years. They are probably the most vulnerable group in the city. I welcome this partnership with Southdown. With their experience and expertise, they will help us to forge new links in Brighton and Hove and better support vulnerable people living in and coming to the city, so that they do not become homeless.”