Motion Was Passed!!

A motion for making vacant council buildings available for use as homeless shelters was put forward by Tom Druitt and seconded by David Gibson. It was unanimously voted on and passed on Thursday 26th January 2017. An urgent report will now be put together and heard at the next policy, resources & growth committee meeting.

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We have been told by councillors that this is unlikely to be ready in practical terms until next winter. In the meantime we plan to keep the pressure up on the council with regard to (SWEP ) Severe Weather Emergency Protocol.

To support in keeping the pressure up you could consider emailing jenny.knight@brighton-hove.gov.uk and clare.moonan@brighton-hove.gov.uk to express (or demand) that the council must change their arbitrary decision making process when deciding whether to activate SWEP or not. They should be applying the charity ‘Homeless Link’s guidance of ‘Extended Winter Provision’ from November through to February for folk living on the streets. Instead of waiting for it to be below zero for three consecutive nights. They need to consider the rain, wind and other conditions which also have a severe impact.

F.Y.I. Homeless Link guidance

 

Call for emergency homeless shelters to remain open throughout winter

Pressure is growing on Brighton and Hove City Council to extend the opening times of emergency homeless shelters in the cold winter months.

Activists said ‘Severe Weather Emergency Protocol’ (SWEP) was activated in Brighton and Hove as temperatures dropped over the weekend and on Monday night, but halted again on Tuesday as the weather was no longer deemed to be extreme.

 

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The First Base centre in St Stephens Hall on Montpelier Place was used as emergency shelter for rough sleepers during SWEP. Entry was permitted from 8pm onwards, with no referral or local connection needed.

Campaigners are now heaping pressure on councillors to protect rough sleepers by extending the scope of SWEP to last throughout the winter, rather than for isolated periods of extreme weather.

Ree Melody, of campaign group Love Activists Brighton, said: “The council needs to change their arbitrary decision making process and consider the severe impact which the rain, wind and other conditions have on those living on our streets, instead of waiting for it to become below zero temperatures for three consecutive nights running.”

Currently the requirements state that three consecutive nights at zero or below is the minimum requirement to activate SWEP responses.

The Love Activists group has been lobbying the council to apply ‘Extended Winter Provision’ as advised by the guidance from the charity Homeless Link, which would make it possible for councils to open emergency centres from November through to March.

A Homeless Link report which aims to advise local authorities on providing appropriate responses for people sleeping rough says the authority in question should consider factors ‘such as wind chill, snow coverage and duration of extreme weather’ when considering adequate provision.

It adds the aim of the protocol is to prevent deaths on the streets and local authorities should do everything they can to prevent harm.

Ms Melody said: “Love Activists have been lobbying the council for the past couple of years for SWEP to be open throughout winter with our other Solution Based Proposals To End Homelessness.”

These proposals include the activation of SWEP not only throughout the winter months but also in any weather which threatens rough sleepers’ health, as well as imposing affordable social rents on private landlords to ensure everyone can afford a home.

Cllr Clare Moonan, the council’s lead member for rough sleeping, said: “We do appreciate that people are concerned about rough sleepers, and especially in cold weather, and that is why we have asked everyone to support the Make Change Count campaign organised with local homeless charities this winter. With our partners, and under the Rough Sleeping Strategy, we work hard to make sure vulnerable people on our streets are cared for, not just in extreme weather, but throughout the year, and welcome the regular discussion about this at committee meetings and full council. The services we provide in extreme weather are to provide additional emergency support on top of the other services already being provided, and we do take into account weather conditions other than zero temperatures.”

A 38Degrees petition addressed to Brighton and Hove councillor for the homeless Clare Moonan demanding open night shelters for rough sleepers has now been signed by almost 4,000 people.

At tonight’s (January 26) Full Council meeting Green councillor Tom Druitt is set to put forward a motion requesting urgent action on the homelessness crisis.

Original article here

Statement Regarding the Proposed Gentrification of King’s House

Love Activists Brighton condemn the ongoing gentrification of our city while homeless people continue to die on our streets. How many more vulnerable human beings will die whilst Brighton & Hove City Council and UK Gov. Plc pass the buck? BHCC offer fine words regarding homelessness but that is all they can offer, because it seems that neither our local authority, nor parliament wield any actual power. The real power lies with the 1%, who evidently care not for the suffering of others.

Kings House should be an asset of community value, used to provide truly affordable and accessible homes for those on the council’s housing waiting list and for those currently without a home. It could be used to expand the successful Housing First model, which has ended homelessness in other parts of the world.

Economically, it would save tax payers money to provide much needed permanent homes in the city rather than funding the extortionately priced and often unkempt emergency and temporary accommodation.

The people of Brighton do not need any more luxury flats.

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Street Stories Exhibition

People who are experiencing homelessness are contributing a ‘Street Stories’ Corner as an inclusive part of the Brighton Art Market (BAM) event.

Exhibiting photos taken by people who are experiencing different types of homelessness. Living on the street, in emergency & temporary accommodation, b&bs, hostels, squatting, sofa surfing, living on the road, the hidden homeless.

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There is also a ‘Street Story’ book which everyone is invited to write in. To share their homeless related stories for others to read.

The Street Stories exhibition is facilitated by Love Activists BrightonOpSafe Winter -Brighton. Two of Brighton’s grassroots outreach groups, who stand in solidarity with folk who are homeless in our city, helping to provide survival aid & campaign for an end to homelessness.

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The ‘Street Stories’ corner will be set up again this Saturday 28th May 11-4pm in Brighthelm Gardens (Just off Queens Road).

We welcome volunteers & collaboration. Please email loveactivists(at)riseup.net if you would like to get involved!

Street Stories Event Page

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Join the Love Activists Bloc, #GeneralStrike #J4 July 4th

The Lobbying and Direct Action crew have set up a facebook event page to rally for a Love Activists Bloc at the #ToriesOut #GeneralStrike on July 4th, #J4.

Join us at the general strike to protest against empty homes, homelessness and the absence of compassion on our streets!

MAKE SOME NOISE AND SPREAD THE LOVE!

Bring:

– Drums
– Other things to make noise
– A smile

Main event page for Brighton:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1071319602906938/

Love Activists Bloc:

facebook.com/events/1678381002379639/

STREET STORY: Have 2 More People Died On Our Streets?

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Heard news last night that 2 more homeless people have died last weekend. Unsure of who yet. Will be calling the police station for any info.

When we rang the past couple of times over the past few months after hearing of the deaths of other people, the senior street community police officer ‘Sergeant Siggs’ failed to call us with any info or to even just say he wouldn’t be able to share any info due to data protection, nothing. Despite expressing that we were trying to find out whether the guy who had been found was someone we knew or not, for ourselves and others living on the street. We still have no answer to whether one of the guys we knew is dead or alive 😦

We rang back after another person died 3 weeks afterwards and voiced the upset from hearing no response when we previously called and needing to make another request for info about someone else. The officer i spoke to was most apologetic and reassured me that she would ask Siggs to call back … we never had any response.

We have also heard a report that when Officer Siggs was on duty recently, in plain clothes kicked at someone asleep on the street to wake them up (the police routinely do this at around 6/7am apparently). We have heard that the officers do this instead of shaking them by their body as less intrusive!? Siggs told us they do it to encourage people to go to First Base. The police tell them that if they refuse or don’t use the services for various reasons, whatever they are, they are not considered or respected. Instead they get arrested.

The person asleep when woken apparently didn’t know him as an officer, and the fact that he was in plain clothes too, the person felt vulnerable and hit out at his leg worried that someone was starting on them. Siggs arrested them. The person was later released as CCTV footage showed that Siggs had kicked him first. No charges were applied.

People on the street are reporting back that officers, including Siggs are on a mission waking people up and telling them to move on or they will be taken into custody 😦

If anyone has any info/news on the two deaths deaths last weekend please let us know. We heard one young guy was found dead near the Brighton Wheel.

Fairness Commission (script)

This is the script we wrote for Brighton & Hove’s Fairness Commission, which we attended on the 18th February 2016.

This document was written collaboratively using titanpad, here: titanpad.com/U4lBQ8hbmr


Through Love Activist Brighton’s autonomous actions we have got to know a lot of people living on the street. we have heard about their experiences and difficulties with getting the help and support they need. The most basic support which every human being deserves – access to shelter.
We hope that this fairness commission will hold some sway over the council with its future recommendations and so we will be frank about our proposals.
1. We don’t think it’s fair that…that people living on the streets are coerced to develop complex needs before they are able to receive help.
In May 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that when local authorities carry out vulnerability assessments, a ‘homeless person’ should be compared with an ‘ordinary person who is at risk of becoming homeless’. There is no doubt that any homeless person is ‘significantly more vulnerable’ than an ordinary person, therefore everybody living on the street should be assessed as being in priority need.
The judgement also made it clear that while councils are often under huge financial strain, this must not be used as an excuse for avoiding their legal duties. To guarantee duty of care and legal obligations are met, all local authorities must provide permanent housing for anybody living on the streets.
We hope to see this change in law properly adhered to by the council. We hope their interpretation will include those in temporary accommodation, sofa surfers, squatters, The so-called “Hidden homeless”.
2. It’s not fair that…The Housing First model is only provided for only ten people in Brighton. It should be a priority to expand it:
Some of you will know that Housing First, is a relatively recent model,  an alternative to the system of emergency and temporary accommodation.
The original housing first scheme was introduced in America and has been remarkably successful in ending chronic homelessness there and in other parts of the world. Housing first pilot project had a 70% success rate in Brighton & Hove
Rather than moving homeless individuals through different “levels” of housing which can take years to get a permanent place to call home, Housing First moves the homeless individual, or household immediately from the streets into their own permanent home. They are also offered adequate support to help with any other issues. This has proven to better meet individual needs and be economically cheaper.
We want to see Housing First made available for all homeless people, with all levels of support needs, from those who only need a home to those with extremely complex emotional and physical needs.
3. We don’t consider it fair that…the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) isn’t activated immediately, in any weather which threatens rough sleepers’ health, particularly the wet. 
The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) was not activated recently, leaving vulnerable people to sleep out during a severe weather warning on our streets. We are waiting to hear of the changes that have been made to make this avoidable in the future. 
Last year the budget wasn’t used up for the SWEP protocol. This must mean that the emergency centres could infact be opened more often if the budget were made available. The surplus budget last year did not get carried over. We would be interested to know what happened to that surplus (and how much it was?)
If the material resources exist to provide shelter from a severe weather emergency, economic arguments against keeping the shelters open all year round are not as powerful as the humanitarian ones for opening them.
We don’t think it’s fair that…affordable social rents are not imposed on private landlords and property investors. 
It’s not fair that the provision of truly affordable permanent homes is not a priority.
We want to see present and future housing projects prioritising housing for those without a home including those in emergency and temporary accommodation. Allocating enough of these properties towards the housing first project until everyone is housed.
It’s not fair that…  so many buildings sit empty. It would make sense to make squatting empty properties safe and equitable for property owners and otherwise homeless people. 
This would make use of empty properties, keep people safe and avoid wasting tax payers money, private money and time spent on security, policing and court costs.
We hope that you will include the solution based proposals in your final report to the council.
We hope that you will use what power you have to take this discussion to central Government. We want the council to stand up to the westminster elite on behalf of all the people who have suffered and died because of their crude, ideological war on the poor.
We want Brighton to lead the charge of rebel cities in the UK, to secede from the square mile in order to prevent this crisis worsening and more people dying.