We started 6 years ago as a small community group feeding around 20 Rough Sleepers, here we are now with around 500 mouths a week to feed. Our Saturday Kitchen sees over 250 including women and children who are often housed with no cooking facilities(in fact sometimes not even a bed). We currently output over 1000 hot meals a week, we also distribute over 2 ton in supplies like clothes, bedding and cleaning products. Most leave with around £50 worth of supplies not including the hot meals. We are the distribution front for some big companies in our city and happy to take and distribute their end of day food. We are a direct approach a life saving service to keep people fed and healthy giving them long enough to find accommodation or change their lifestyles. We have seen so many people go from Rough Sleeping to playing a part in society, their experience is often used in mentoring and has a huge value. We hear so many sad stories of how one bad mistake turned a life into a spiral down, we also hear weekly of faces not turning up that have passed away. Homeless average age at death is 42, how sad is that and we fight to turn that round. For women on the street it truly is a nightmare often they choose the street to escape domestic violence only to find little support and often end up in a worse situation. Homeless Women numbers are now on the increase and every week our volunteers see the bruises and cuts and sadly hear of horror storied of abuse and rape. These women have conditioned themselves to believe that is all they are worth, we try to change that. Drink, Drugs and Mental Heath is our biggest issues and on case studies we have done there does not seem to be any way to predict how this happens. Often the Drink or Drugs is just an escape from the trauma and to often they only started the habit just to fit in with the others on the street. We have become experts in gathering support from our community and delivering it to the most vulnerable but we need funding, Food and core costs have risen so much and our running cost have grown to match the numbers we support. Either we find the funds to grow or we have to reduce the support we give, that for sure would leave people to die on the street.
At the start of COVID we were the only community charity to stay out we worked with police in creating a safe area on the street to feed the homeless, we ran 8 street kitchens a week, our volunteers worked 18hours a day to deliver food and supplies yet Government turned us down for grants all the millions in support went to the agencies that closed their doors. With community support, some great independent businesses and community grants we kept going. We were ordering pallets of supplies and getting bargains. As the other food outlets closed we were getting their supplies, other kitchens even airports and cruise liners emptied their freezers onto us. We thought the sudden demand would end at the end on Covid but it just has continued to grow and everyone predicts the numbers will grow and grow.
So to continue our service we need help we have all the contacts to gather food, clothing and supplies its just funds to keep going rent, electric, fuel our core costs are low we are experts in working with next to nothing, So if you can help with anything or fundraise for us we would be so grateful and together we will save lives. Thank You.
BELLOW ARE A FEW OF THE CASE STUDIES WE HAVE DONE
Jenny … Middle Aged Lady. Jenny arrived in Brighton after a domestic issue in Leicester. She walked out of the family home. She went to Sheffield Council, where she was originally from and her son lived there. She registered as homeless, but was told the application would take months to complete and they refused to house her in Temp Accommodation, because in their opinion she was Intentionally Homeless. Jenny had visited Brighton in the past so she decided to have a break and come here. She was sleeping rough in a bus shelter and using a baby buggy to push her belongings around in. Jenny did not beg, but used local homeless services for food. We met Jenny at a soup kitchen and invited her to the bus that night. I did a brief interview, which was no more than a chat and spotted she was suffering from a trauma (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). She was invited to take a bed on the bus. Over the weeks with us she came out of her shell and really became part of the project. Having a secure locker on the bus gave her the opportunity to leave bags there - safe while she walked around the services, including the local library. Jenny was well educated, she was clean, she ate well but she had PTSD. She was in constant communication with her son, using the bus mobile phone at times. She just needed time to coordinate her situation but it was important she had somewhere safe to sleep while doing this. I spent time chatting to Jenny and one day she said she was ready to go back, she packed up her belongings and left for Sheffield.
Peter … first time homeless. Peter came to Brighton from Birmingham for a work offer. He was couch surfing with a friend and he brought all his belongings in a one-way rental van. It was a fresh start for him. The starting date of the job dragged out, then the company closed. Peter had used all his funds up eating and living, waiting on the start. When he told his friend, they had a fight and Peter was kicked out. He could not go back to Birmingham, so walked the streets. He went to council and was told he had no local connection but that maybe he should try the bus. He found us on seafront and was given a bed that night. The following day we allowed him to move all his property into our store. Peter had never slept rough, so he was vulnerable, but was up and out every day trying to find work, so did not mix with the other rough sleepers. He registered as homeless, he engaged with other housing projects and eventually they found him a bed in an emergency hostel. A few weeks later, he moved into a studio flat. All his property was then moved into his new place and with the rent reasonable, he will now be able to start work soon. We still provide a weekly food donation to Peter to help support him and keep up our contact.
Louise … Young Girl with Mental Health Issues. Louise ended up on the street due to her mental health. She was taken to Millview Hospital by her mother to get support, Louise was self-harming even during the interview but she managed to convince the clinic that she was in control. Her mother could not take any more, her mental health was bad due to the trouble Louise was causing at home so the mother drove off and left Louise at the hospital, hoping this would cause the hospital to help, it did not. Louise wandered the street she met up with some drug dealers who gave her drugs, then abused her and had plans to put her to work as a prostitute. They brought her to our Sunday kitchen for food but we engaged with Louise and managed to take her away from the dealer. She came to us later but it was obvious she had severe trauma. She was bashing her own head and crying all the time. She had given a false name to other agencies, so getting her background was difficult but we managed to using our contacts in the NHS and it was agreed she could have a new assessment based on our referral. A few days later we took Louise to the assessment and she was admitted under the mental health act. We were on her safe list and often take her out for a few hours to help with her recovery. Louise recently moved to a new more open unit near Hailsham and we have already visited her there with supplies.
Tom … Prison Release 59yr Old. Tom served 9 years, he refused to accept his guilt so never got any parole. On his release from Lewes Prison he went with his paperwork to Brighton & Hove City Council housing, he showed his paperwork, he was born in Brighton and only ever lived here until his sentence. He was wrongly told by council that he had lost his local connection and that they had no duty of care for him. Tom walked the beach collecting pebbles in his pockets, he was on hiis way to the marina wall to take his life. He used to fish there so felt that would be his last place. He turned up at us on route never mentioned the pebbles till after a week. He stayed with us he was given a bed on the bus in Feb 2018 and he stayed with us until accommodation was found for him in August. Tom would have been very vulnerable on the street he had a number of illnesses that were being treated by Morely St, Arch CIC Clinic. All our clients can be referred to them direct, we can also refer to opticians, dentists etc. Tom is now in his own bedsit and he visits the office once a week for a food collection and any other supplies he needs. Recently one of our volunteers took him boat fishing.
Most of the people we give support to keep in contact for years, they are happy to tell us of their successes some have been with us 6 years and we will see them this week with your help. Sadly over 30 die a year but together we can work towards saving more lives