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Brighton Centre to house homeless this winter

by Martin Fullard

The Brighton Centre will be used as a shelter for people sleeping rough in the city this winter. A large room at the venue, which was the location of the 2017 Labour Party Conference, is currently being prepared.

The Brighton Centre will open its doors from 10 December to provide overnight shelter for up to 30 people.

The announcement comes after much in-depth research by councillors and officers to find an available space that is suitable for adaption to a safe environment for people to stay overnight.

Howard Barden, head of tourism & venues for Brighton & Hove City Council, told EN sister publication Conference News: “The Brighton Centre hosts a wide range of events and we’re experienced in using our space to maximum effect for all. We were pleased to be able to work with our colleagues from across the council looking into ways to tackle the impact of the national homelessness crisis here in our city.

“We’re very proud of our role in providing space for a temporary shelter for the local rough sleeping community during the colder winter months. As part of the planning, we also ensured that there will be no adverse impacts on events being held at the Brighton Centre during this period.”

Cllr Clare Moonan, Labour councillor and lead councillor for rough sleeping, Cllr Robert Nemeth, Conservative, and Cllr David Gibson, Green, have been meeting regularly to organise the plans for the shelter.

In a joint statement, the councillors stated: “There is a national crisis in the number of people facing the risk of homelessness and 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 rightly 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. People living rough on the streets are at high risk, vulnerable and need help. The average life expectancy of a man sleeping rough is just 47 years old, that’s a shocking fact we are addressing here in Brighton & Hove.”

The places at the shelter will be allocated from referrals by outreach workers from St Mungo’s and BHT (Brighton Housing Trust). The outreach workers will also offer support to those staying at the shelter, linking them to services and sources of support across Brighton & Hove.

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