Support for rough sleepers is making a difference
- The number of people rough sleeping in Brighton & Hove is going down
- New services are helping people move away from the streets
- But the city continues to feel the pressure of the national housing crisis
Numbers going down
Fewer people are rough sleeping in the city new figures reveal.
The annual count to find out how many people are rough sleeping around the country has taken place. The count revealed a significant drop in the number of people rough sleeping in the city this November.
The official figure for Brighton & Hove, verified by independent organisation Homeless Link, is 64 people.
This figure was established by pooling one night of research undertaken across the city. Teams of outreach workers and volunteers worked together to make a record of people bedded down in the city after midnight and through the early hours of Wednesday 21 November.
Clare Moonan, lead councillor for rough sleeping, said: “There are fewer people sleeping on the streets, the count has confirmed our own local knowledge gained over the last year. It’s a credit to all those working so hard in the city helping people away from the terrible tragedy of rough sleeping that we are seeing this change. We know together we are helping more people off the streets, with services such as the assessment hub and new supported accommodation. But we can’t ignore the fact that we’re not seeing a drop in the flow of people who are facing rough sleeping in the city and who we need to help. Demand is still high. It’s an ongoing challenge.”
The government Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) requires local authorities to supply this information each year.
The MHCLG definition of a person who is rough sleeping is someone who is bedded down for the night. The MHCLG guidelines also state that a count cannot start until midnight so people who spend time on the streets in the day and have accommodation elsewhere are not included in the figure. The MHCLG releases information nationally in January each year.
To give a better understanding of the ongoing situation, the council’s outreach service St Mungo’s are carrying out street counts every two months. These regular counts cover most of the city, only excluding the far outlying areas where very few people choose to bed down. The most recent figure this count recorded 78 people rough sleeping in September.
Additional data about the situation is also routinely prepared by a range of local agencies to enable partners to confidentially and quickly see an individual’s needs and what support is already in place. This means people do not have to explain their circumstances in detail each time they meet a different worker. The monitoring also shows rough sleeping services are doing well at identifying people in need and helping them away from the streets.
Cllr Moonan added: “We know we are heading in the right direction. Not all rough sleepers have the same needs, and having a range of services means we are better able to meet these needs. But we also know that the number of people sleeping rough will start going back up again if we don’t keep these vital services in place. We urge people not to come to Brighton & Hove without having accommodation arranged. There is a housing crisis. Our city has very little accommodation available and we are doing all we can to meet the needs of people living here who need a place to stay.”
How the count works
There are two methods for completing the annual count and both are subject to independent verification. The count method has been reintroduced in Brighton & Hove following discussions with the ministry about how other areas conduct their counts.
The alternative method to a count is an estimate comprised of data from local partners and collated to provide an agreed figure for one night in November. Brighton & Hove City Council used the estimate method for the previous three years and last year’s estimate figure for November 2017 was 178.