How can you help the Brighton homeless?
‘It’s time we start learning about what we can do’
Homelessness is a serious issue in society, one that we tend to ignore. In our day-to-day, it’s all too easy to pass by people on the street and not speak to or give money to then. I have to admit to ignoring some at times; putting the problem in the back of my mind with hopes that those with more power than me will help people on the streets.
But that is quite obviously not the case, and it’s time that we start learning about what we can do.
The number of people sleeping on the streets has in fact doubled since 2010, in 2016 UK Government statistics showed that 4,134 people slept rough on any one night across England. As well as this, local agencies report 8,096 people slept rough in London alone throughout 2015/2016.
We spoke to the local council, as well as charities, to see what can be done to help tackle this problem.
Brighton and Hove council admitted to homelessness being on the rise, and explained that their services aim to support people “to move away from the streets”, ideally helping those in the early stages before their situation worsens. They also spoke about individuals on the street with more complex needs, “requiring help from various agencies”, and explained that hostel services ensure support for those on the street is available.
The council advise not to donate cash on the street as it “can actually prevent people from linking up with professional organisations offering life-changing support.” Instead, they advised that we donate to their fundraising page in order to support their “Make Change Count” campaign.
The campaign allows the homeless to reach out and ask for more help when they feel it’s needed, as well as gets local people to speak up for those who may not have the ability to. As well as this campaign the council advised to reach out to charities to give donations.
One of the charities recommended by my local council was Streetlink, a national website referral service. Streetlink allows you to give information about somebody sleeping on the street that causes concern for you, or alternatively allows someone who is sleeping on the street to ask for help. The charity describes themselves as ” the link between members of the public or rough sleepers – who may not know where to turn for help – and local services.” In some circumstances the charity can can receive as many as 300 alerts per day.
Since December 2012, around 25,000 people have been connected to local services and over 4,000 have found accommodation as a direct result of their referral to StreetLink. With our phones constantly by our side, Streetlink’s app or simply calling them on 0300 500 0914 offers an easy way to give help to those who need it most. The charity’s advice for helping those in need was to use their service, to “spread the word” or become a volunteer and help the service.
After taking on board the information given by the council and Streetlink, it seems that giving to organisations that have more facilities to help the homeless is the way forward. Hopefully by spreading awareness and discussing that rough sleeping is in fact a big problem, we can help to resolve it.