Homeless person sleeping in West Street, Brighton..
THE Brighton Centre will open its doors to the city’s homeless this winter.
A large room in the seafront conference centre is to be made available as an overnight shelter for up to 30 rough sleepers from December 10 to February 11.
Council staff are continuing to look for other venues and options to provide additional overnight shelter between now and then, and after February 11 when temperatures are expected still to be extremely low.
The announcement comes after The Argus reported the city has the second-highest numbers of rough sleepers in the country outside of London, and that use of its food banks has gone up more than 60 per cent.
A year-long search for council-owned properties to open to the city’s homeless has been underway since Brighton and Hove City Council approved a Green Party proposal to convert empty council buildings into more night shelters, in January.
A cross-party group conducting a search for suitable premises looked at empty properties but could not find a place suitable to be adapted into a safe environment for people to stay overnight, so the search spread to see which of the council’s operational buildings might have space.
Councillor Clare Moonan, (Lab) the city’s lead for rough sleeping, Councillor Robert Nemeth (Con), and Councillor David Gibson (Green) issued a joint statement to say: “We’re united in trying to find ways to help those in need here in our city.
“This shelter will help many rough sleepers to sleep at night and provide a safe place to go as the temperatures drop. We know residents in the city are concerned about people living rough, especially at this time of year when the weather can be extreme. The shelter is one of many ways we are providing help and working with partners to keep people safe and warm this winter.”
Places at the shelter will be allocated from referrals by outreach workers from St Mungo’s and Brighton and Hove Housing Trust, and support staff seconded to the centre will try to link those sleeping there with services and sources of support.
No confirmed bookings at the Brighton Centre will be affected by the plans, and work is ongoing to find a suitable place for the shelter to run through to March 2018.
Last week The Argus reported homeless charity Shelter estimated 4,218 people sleep rough or live in temporary accommodation in Brighton and Hove.
The council says its agencies support around 1,500 rough sleepers over the course of the year, around half of whom are from the area.
Source: The Argus