Brighton Homelessness: Why Homeless Women Deserve Better

Emergency and Temporary Accommodation Brighton Stories Covid-19 Crisis

I would say around 80% of all my housing and homeless clients are women, most are young and under 25. They are mostly Brighton and Hove born and raised and either come from a disturbed / traumatic past or present or they are from what society calls a deprived upbringing.

Firstly deprived is a word given to us from academics, I call these upbringings good old fashioned challenging life experiences, others will put people like me into a box and class structure. Often missing the point.

Did we ever feel deprived growing up thats the question?

I am speaking out today in this blog article in the hope that others suffering similar experiences to what I am about to describe, will come forward and speak out also!

Should homeless women be better safeguarded in Homelessness Accommodation?

Firstly what is safeguarding? the council have a definition, charities have another and those affected by the actual issues have their own lived version. For sometime now I have had brave women coming forward to expose the homeless system locally with their own stories, some have progressed to ombudsman complaints and won, others have suffered in silence.

History has proven that homeless are right in almost everything they describe and say about the system which fails homeless women and others.

We have had issues in Brighton and Hove ranging from mothers being placed into unsuitable non-self contained hostels with kids for long periods of time and in breach of the law. We have had young women fleeing violent ex partners or family members left in unsafe accommodation and poorly supported. We have had women with children complain about the living conditions they are forced to bring up their kids, only to be revenge evicted when complaining for speaking out.

We have had young women blackmailed and even threatened by senior ex executive officers (paid off with a 300k redundancy package) and made to feel like a piece of dirt. For too long women have been forgotten and sidelined. Especially women from deprived backgrounds who become homeless and in need of Temporary Accommodation.

More often than not I will be approached or meet and speak to women, its not that I think its a weakness coming forward for help, I personally think they are stronger because they are speaking out and taking action against wrongdoing. Whereas I find men more likely to suffer alone, and most of my interactions with men are from the LGBT+ Community.

I grew up with a mother and father and at one time in my youth I remember a time in which I had to stay in a homeless hostel (it was 3-5 Percival Terrace) as a child. They were dark and dingy places back then and definitely not the sort of place you would choose to be with young children or even pregnant. The reality is many are forced into these places.

Picture it, you are a single mother with two children, you have lived and worked in the city you were born for your whole life. You grew up in what is considered a deprived area, you read in the press or though your friends that where you are from is bad or negative so you start to feel shame or embarrassment in where you come from.

This is how it works, you are fed lies such as its better to go private for housing (better for who?) you are told not to rely on the state for basics like housing, after all why would you want to live in a council house on a council estate? when you can be private….

As a young adult I believed this lie, I wanted to run away from my up-bringing on the Whitehawk Estate Brighton . That shame placed on me by others (tories and the working class controllers) created internal embarrassment. I will admit for a time in my life I lost myself, I lost my identity, my roots and my sub-culture. Don’t make the same mistake!

These “Judgers” are a funny sort, they seem nice and act like your friend, you can even learn to trust them, but do they provide us with real opportunities? very rarely….

They might give your partner a cash in hand job working on a building site, normally with no work related benefits, a lack of job security and workers rights and more often or not they are re-developing properties for lawyers and tax avoiding property developers, whilst you yourself are homeless. Is that fair?

Surely a good secure job with the local council, contributing to our society and building good quality and affordable council homes for all would be better for all? Housing is a human right, It is not a means for making a small fortune out of a basic human right. Housing!

Do these people truly value what we have to say? do they take the time to mentor and befriend us? do they encourage us to take ownership of our own issues and destinies?

In my experience very rarely, although I have met some amazing and genuine middle class people who value our sub cultural differences and unique life experience. But yes its very rarely and when they do value us its either to get you on-side, to control and use or to manipulate steal our ideas.

You Cannot Bottle The Life and Experiences of Someone From a so called deprived Council Estate upbringing?

When I started in my corporate career back in 1999, did I tell my perspective employer I was from Whitehawk, no way!

I wrote my address as Kemptown and often avoided questions around school due to the smears from outsiders and the privileged on people like me.

Life is literally divided into have’s and have nots, the haves often look at us the deprived working class communities with either an open or closed outlook. Some will try and put us in our places, with comments like you should go for a job in MacDonalds or take up a cleaning job (for people like them?); whereas others see our hunger for change, passion and commitment as to competition and will do whatever they can to sabotage, demotivate and stop our progression.

How many genuine working class people who have grown up in our council estates across the country have made it into top positions of power and influence? (*if you have any suggestions do so comment below).

I mean people like Kathy Burke, George Michael, Professor Green and Stormzy, they have done well in life but remained true to their upbringing, they have not sold out and are genuine.

For me the working class (especially those from deprived backgrounds) are the backbone of our society, do we have our own culture / sub-culture…? Absolutely, does this mean we are worth less than the privileged / academics in society? Definitely not. Its all about perspectives and experiences.

In the four years I have been campaigning and advocating for people, I have seen for myself how they (the system/establishment ) control us and try to stop us from being able to self organise and take positions of power and influence. Often by cheating, lying and smearing good people.

They buy up our council homes which were meant for the many. Then they demolish our council homes and finally either rebuild luxury homes to replace (essentially socially cleansing our culture) or they do what they do in Brighton and Hove and thats to rent them back out privately for four times the rental price.

This is simply not a sustainable system long term.

Four Years Fighting For Women. Where is the change?

I genuinely thought by now we should have achieved change, the hostile environment which awaits most who become homeless would be the past and that Brighton and Hove City Council would treat homeless women better. I was wrong!

Lets face it Brighton and Hove were promised a women’s hostel during the recent local elections, the greens and labour both agreed with this and pledges were made.

Argus Article via a Labour Press Release from 11th March 2017 Titled: Brighton and Hove Labour Party vows to defend women’s rights.

How many more women need to die in Brighton and Hove or become seriously injured, before we deal with this failure?

Granted there was no timetable for delivery, but considering the need, one needs to ask why its been a year, and the whole subject has gone on the back burner.

So i’ve provided some of the context and background as to how I feel around this subject and most have come from my own personal experiences and opinions from my lived homelessness experience and subsequent advocacy when I am well.

Now I want to detail a few issues recent issues involving women that have been personally leaked to myself. I have to report them to get change.

Brighton and Hove Labour Group Women’s Rights Pledges

The pledges are:

  • To protect the local authority investment in independent women’s domestic and sexual services which are LGBT inclusive
  • To maintain a specialist women’s hostel to help women who are rough sleeping to escape homelessness
  • To support the campaign to acknowledge misogyny as an official hate crime
  • To maintain at least 50-50 women in the most senior leadership positions in Labour. The Fawcett report recommendations require political leadership to be fully implemented. This pledge demonstrates the party’s commitment to create a local government democracy fit for the future.
  • To end the negative impact of period poverty for schoolgirls by ensuring the Red Box project is in place in every school in the city and to campaign for national public funding
  • To continue to oppose austerity which disproportionately affects women. The party supports the Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign to return pensions to women affected by the changes to state pension ages without adequate notice and welfare reforms that penalise women such as the “rape clause”.

Women in Hostels

The law states women with children in hostels are not allowed to be housed for no longer than six weeks in non self contained hostel accommodation commonly known as B&B Rooms.

I have a lot of younger clients ironically who are in hostels and not youth centred emergency housing, one client who is legally a youth was placed into the notorious Baron Homes Slum Hostel on Grand Parade, I briefly discuss her case in the video at the top of the page. She is the one who had the issue with the broken window. (Image below).

Broken Cheap and Unsafe Window Client was blamed for doing which is a lie

Just two days ago my client was served a ‘room cancellation’ notice, which is essentially an eviction. Not just an eviction but what is known as a revenge eviction, this is an eviction whereby private landlords evict on the basis of someone maybe complaining about issues or the conditions and environment they are living.

Baron Homes are subcontracted by Brighton and Hove City Council to provide ‘good quality’ Emergency Accommodation, they are paid very well for the privilege and gain lots of benefits to this contact, which is helping to fund there ever expanding property empire. I exposed the company which what looks like good old tax evasion with my Panama Papers expose on the property developers.

This practice has to stop. The effects are that my client is now homeless, she has walked, all Baron Homes care about is getting there door keys back. What they and the council should be concerned with is the conditions people are living in.

This is triggering and having a significant impact on peoples health and wellbeing, not to mention the financial cost to services from this neglect.

My client reports that Baron Homes speak down to her, they are clearly classist, they place the most vulnerable into there worst buildings. Makes zero sense.

Women with Families

What amazed me more than anything, and remember I was once a child with my mother and father on separate occasions living in emergency accommodation was how much things have not change at all.

The old cliché dark, dingy and dangerous reputation was certainly still the case, the danger cannot always be blamed on the residents. The system is creating these issues with the genuine crisis in the lack of support and lack of essential facilities.

Parents often get a microwave, id like to say things are improving, but imagine spending Christmas in one of these places with your children? This is not a life.

I have a client who I have been working with for sometime, I mention her in the above video, its been 6 weeks and still she is trapped in a traumatic loophole, suffering the loss of her murdered black partner during this covid-19 crisis, when we hear the city council are turning buildings purple in recognition to the George Flloyd murder and subsequent demonstrations, the irony when this happened in this city just weeks ago.

Look how the council have treated this traumatised partner and mother of his unborn children, they have largely not taken her needs into account. Initially trying to place her back into Emergency Accommodation, she lived in Temporary Accommodation atm.

To me the human thing to do is help this person with some sort of compassion, she would gain strength during this difficult time, instead we see issues.

I am however told that my client is viewing the third property next week, lets hope its third time lucky.

How can you speak out

Right now the crappy system is showing the cracks us who lived it have seen and raised time and time again. This is a fight which needs those affected to come forward and speak out yourselves.

We can change the system if we learn to change our habits, know your rights.

Contact for any help you may need. I can always sign post if I cant personally help.

Shocking Revenge Eviction: Baron Homes Caught Out Live On Camera

Last weekend Baron Homes Corporation Limited yet again revenge evicted a single mother from Windsor Court Brighton, the company illegally changed the locks and we understand have also refused to give the poor victim her deposit back.

There has been no paperwork given to Maggie in relation to the eviction or notice given, the council have failed


Shelter have confirmed that this is an illegal eviction and entitled to compensation on three separate grounds. This time we will win.

I was shocked that events were allowed to go this far, I tried everything to help Maggie this day, social services did not want to know which you can listen to in this exclusive recording with social services manager Indra.

Whilst I am not attacking social services in general here, I am highlighting a particular individual who I believe hopefully does not represent the Children’s Services Department.

I don’t know about you but that is not the way to help a victim in need.

EXPOSE BARON HOMES FOR THEIR CORRUPTION AND NEGLIGENT

There is a petition which has been set up to get the revenge evictions and other issues investigated, please can you sign and promote this petition.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE COMMENTS

My daughter was kicked out of one of their shit holes for complaining about damp mould ever where and a blocked sink and was told to keep her mouth shut and not to tell council how bad the place was if she wanted to keep a roof over her head she also received threats from the thugs who call themselves “the caretakers”

I’m signing because I lived here with Joey when he was 6months, black carpets, fleas, silver fish, damp! Was only moved a week before joeys open head surgery because I refused to take him back there after leaving Great Ormond Street! The place needs knocking down!

My friend is young, hard working and lives with her 8 year old daughter in one of their flats. The flat got broken in to on three consecutive nights a month ago. The door was kicked out the frame and the third attempt was through the windows (which don’t close let alone have locks).

Neither Baron Homes or the Council have repaired the door or windows rendering them homeless or unsafe. They’ve been living at mine to keep them secure. Baron homes even shared the internal pictures of the flat to a neighbour (which must be a confidentially breach) suggesting the place was a mess so how do they know if it had in fact been broken in to (despite three crime references and witnesses).

The mess was only due to her having lost her Mum a few weeks previous and inheriting all her belongings in to the studio flat in which they resided. The real joke is the police could not get finger prints due to the property being too cold at only 12 degrees!! The reason being that the windows don’t close and the heating doesn’t work. This costs her £650 a month. Disgusting!!!

READ MORE COMMENTS HERE

Elected Councillors Have A Duty To Pressure the Council for the Urgent Report into Revenge Evictions

In November at the housing and new homes committee Green Councillor David Gibson passed an amendment asking for the council to urgently investigate the revenge evictions and provide the committee with this report urgently. Its now February and we have heard nothing, this amendment was seconded by Conservative Mary Mears.

Our labour council are failing around housing issues, we keep providing the evidence and nothing is done, they aren’t challenging the officers and double checking standards, they simply aren’t listening hard enough.

Baron Homes: Secrets, Lies & Revenge Evictions.

Back in May I exposed the links between Baron Homes Corporation Limited, Panama Papers, Tax Evasion and the Robbery of the State.

Who Are Baron Homes Corporation Limited?

Set up in the 90’s after the conservative government introduced the Right to Buy Scheme Company No: 02930345. Baron Homes are everywhere to be found in Brighton and Hove today and have enough assets to launch legal action anytime someone speaks out.

I don’t have a pot to piss in, excuse the expression!

Since this company have been in operation, we have seen a huge rise in the private rental sector, the sale and loss of many council owned homes in Brighton and Hove, a huge rise in homelessness and the rise of the Private Sector taking ownership of Temporary and Emergency Accommodation.

The below image is just one example of linked companies buying up council assets for redevelopment into luxory accommodation, now a 1 bed is on the market for £950pcm – This compares to the average homemove rent of £300pcm.

Image of Building
Baron Estates Ex Brighton and Hove City Council Building Redevelopment

The Hidden Homeless: File on 4 BBC Radio Documentary

Last night the BBC broadcast  a 40 minute documentary focusing on the impact of living in Temporary Accommodation, the reasons for this including the sale of council owned properties and companies acting like cartels.

Listen to the file on 4 current affairs hidden homeless documentary based partially on my campaigning and Brighton and Hove.

Latest government figures show councils in England took on 15,000 new homeless households between April and June this year – a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.

Terri and Angela two single mothers living in Windsor Court, Windsor Street Brighton, contacted the BBC regarding issues relating to the accommodation and to explain why Emergency Services are onsite, as reported by BBC Sussex a few weeks back.

Within days of this the mothers faced reprisals for speaking out, what they call as a targeted revenge eviction from Baron Homes.

Meet Terri who was quickly evicted by Baron Homes and removed from Brighton and Hove

Family Hit By Revenge Eviction
Terri fears reprisals so has asked I not Identify Kane for security reasons

Initially Ben Weisz Political Reporter from the BBC visited Terri at the notorious Baron Homes Accommodation known as Windsor Court, to discuss the number of Ambulance Callouts for the Property, which as you can see has jumped to about 2 per week in 2016.

Ambulance Dispatches Emergency Accommodation Brighton and Hove

On the 18th October 2016 another BBC Journalist Simon Cox contacted the family as part of a documentary around Hidden Homelessness, Terri wanted to speak out and help educate the wider public on what life is like living in Emergency Accommodation as a single mother.

Terri states – The caretaker from Baron Homes forced entry to flat 17 where we then were, and aggressively removed Simon Cox to the extreme of seeing him out the building.

Terri explained that at that time, there was nothing to written within the contract about not allowing media visitors at Windsor Court. Residents are allowed visitors during set times.

The next day 19th October 2016 Terri explains that she came home at 12:45pm to find her flat had been entered without prior notification or knowledge. She explains  that during bad weather the door window pane was broken, and whilst she was unhappy they had entered her flat without prior notice, that getting it fixed was more important.

Then Terri explains – 

The glass company contracted out by Baron Homes had decided to shave and cut the glass in my home, glass was all over my carpet and they clearly didn’t use dust sheets leaving glass shavings all over the entrance.

I rang Baron Homes and asked them to send someone out about this as I was now very upset whilst waiting for Baron Homes to arrive, I also called the Brighton and Hove City Council being placed on hold.

Terri then states that at around 13:03pm, she saw over her balcony Matt the Baron Homes Caretaker arriving alone, she says there was something different about him so ran to the second floor, then down to the first floor to meet Matt.

She explains that whilst on hold and on loud speaker, Matt started taking photos and then the council advisor answered saying “we are sorry about the wait”. Matt hears that Terri is on the phone to Brighton and Hove City Council.

Terri States –

He realises I’m ringing the council, he said – “you’re not still ringing the council are you?” I said,  ‘well yes, I didn’t know this was happening and they’ve left my home in a mess and its dangerous,’

The Caretaker said sarcastically “you have a hoover don’t you?” Terri said “it’s not my job to clean that, it should not be there!”

The Caretaker walks back from the lift door, and says

Terri I’m talking to you as a friend, if you ring the council and complain I will tell Baron Homes you broke the glass yourself and you’ll have to pay £75. so Terri said “so you want to blackmail me? The Caretaker stated “No I’m talking to you as a friend, you complain and I tell them you lied”

Terri states that a week prior another caretaker called Ali informed the council officers who were doing an inspection of the property that the glass was broken by the wind.

Then Terri explains she said if Matt explains she broke this, that he would look stupid as it had already been reported as an accident.

The Caretaker Said to Terri “don’t call me stupid you fat bitch, I’ll kick you out then” Terri said “how are you going doing that though Matt? I’ve done nothing wrong, but come home to get pissed off and have you try blackmail and now threaten me? Are you joking?

Matt now moves forward backing me to the wall, I can smell the coffee on his breathe “hang up the phone!” (At this point two BLACK men open the door from 17 seeing matt backing me to the wall) Matt noticed them alerting me I shout, (Help! Can you hear this he’s blackmailing me!) Matt perks up shut up you stupid bitch ” the two men shout what’s going on? And Matt walks now towards them, I shout so now two MEN are here you want to walk away?

Angry because I was intimidated I called him a pussy and  I shouted at him how dare he scare me and my child who was stood between us the whole time and then walk away when men come out because your behaving wrong! Are you joking come on don’t be shy now I shouted, as he walked down the stairs instead of answering me he simply shouts “shut up you stupid bitch your a liar, she’s a liar everybody”

Terri says – Now shaking and scared senseless I grab my son and keys and walk out to the front of the building in hope to catch the two men who had interrupted. As I left they were there, they asked me if I was okay and we had started to discuss what had happened.

Finally the Male council staff member answered around 13:15pm she states the Caretaker saw her speaking to the council officer and shouted ‘oi’ then said “just remember who they believe”. then passed her a room cancellation notice.

Terri States the Council staff member asked her to come down to the council. By the time she got there, she states her son was traumatised by the incident and wouldn’t take his hands away from his eyes.

She states that Baron Homes contacted the council made an allegation of 4 separate racially abusive incidents which was the reason they cancelled her room – Also they said because she didn’t pay for the window, which she didn’t break.

I have asked Terri if she had received any previous warnings in writing and she has stated no, Terri refutes the allegations and in fact defiantly went to the police station to report the incident with the caretaker. Which they couldn’t take further due to no evidence.

I contacted another resident who jumped at the defence of Terri and said

My neighbour has been evicted with just less than 24hrs notice.. On grounds of racism.. She’s not racist. Baron homes told the council that she has had 4 complaints of abuse towards contractors and abuse and racism towards staff.

She spoke to simon cox yesterday and again today after what happened . She made a complaint about her door being fixed without prior notice. The caretaker gave key to glazier who left glass shavings on her floor. She wants to make this even more public via

She has a four year old son. Cant believe they are doing this.

Whats happened to Terri?

She says – I’m now living in Seaford paying £40 a fortnight to get my son to nursery just so he can keep some stability! My son wouldn’t come home for days he was too scared.

I’m in a nice place it’s warm and clean, however I can’t have a Christmas tree for the second year running. Only difference this year is I can not allow anyone to buy him presents. For where am I to put them? I haven’t the room my whole life is now in boxes and bags in the corner of my now home.

I can’t unpack I can’t plan. I just have to go day by day wondering when I’ll get moved.

When did standing up for my rights actually do anything? I mean is having a voice in today’s world worth it. I mean all it’s done to me is take my home away.,Force me and my son into sharing a bed with no ability to watch tv on a sofa again.

I’ve had not a seat to sit on since February this year when I was moved into flat 6 from mouldy 45 which was large compared to my sorry state smaller flat, flat 6.

My son is four he is doing really well at school but this shit just keeps setting him back and me.

I have PTSD, I’m unwell and have been forced to moved again, to pack my life up in less then 24 hours and even had to move myself with no help to Seaford.

It took nearly the whole year to get better after the stress of last year to the point I had key workers coming from left right and centre.

Now I can’t say next year won’t start the same as this one. When will I get my forever home? When will my son get to be a child and have a home and normal bed time and routine. He’s the one that’s been punished not me!

I haven’t lost anything I have him, but for him, he loses friends relationships he’s built will suffer and have to be rebuilt eventually. It disturbs his behaviour at home he punishes me. He suffers not I! So why can’t they see that. Do what you like to me, my baby, boy you best keep praying cause I won’t stop I will rectify what my son has been through no matter what.

There are almost 2000 children living in temporary accommodation in Brighton and Hove, this the story of one. I know who I believe, especially with all the other reports about Baron Homes that I’ve been shown. Make your own mind up and remember if you haven’t already listen to Terri yourself.