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.

Brighton & Hove Homelessness: The Shame Of Europe

Ive been speaking to some non UK nationals about homelessness in Brighton and Hove.

Last year I met a student from Holland who was staying in Brighton and Hove for the winter to study, he was studying homelessness and rough sleepers. He spent so much time with rough sleepers observing and learning. He went back to Holland with his results which painted a realistic gloomy view of the homelessness issues in Brighton and Hove.

We know that we have 144 official rough sleepers but what about the extended community within the homeless sub-culture? these are people living in hostels, people who are now homed and left without support and therapy to fully recover.

We know that we have a very visible issue on the streets of Brighton right now, as I am writing this blog I am tucked up in bed with a horrid chest infection, warm under my duvet and only a few feet away from the kettle to make some honey and lemon hot water.

I was speaking to a rough sleeper last night, he is 19 years old. He also has a chest infection, but does not have to comforts we are privileged to have today.

He will be walking the streets all day to get warm.

He will be begging or doing criminal activities to survive.

He is slowly dying inside and at risk of assault or sexual abuse. How can this be right?

The homeless are five times more lively to attend A&E than the average Brighton and Hove resident, most die in their forties.

Check out this post worried about another young lad.

Non UK Citizens in Shock Horror at Brighton and Hove Homelessness Issue

So back to this guy, who is quite cute, he has recently arrived from Spain with an open mind as to what he will find in the the city and has taken up full time work in a restaurant working 40 hours a week. He works in the city centre and can see first hand the homelessness crisis bringing doom and gloom to the streets of Brighton.

He said “In my whole life I’ve never seen this, people sleeping on the streets, we do not have this where I am from”.

Which is something I am hearing more and more often, many of the volunteers we see helping out with grassroots groups are people from other countries in Europe, this number is increasing which is great.

He then said “There no help by the government?”

I laughed out loud and coughed everywhere with this stinking cold, as if! Since the Conservatives came into power rough sleeping has doubled.

These people who come to live in the UK from Europe, they come to learn English, they work hard, long hours and see the carnage on the streets as totally unbelievable and unnessessary.  Why? because they don’t have this, yet they have much higher unemployment levels than the UK.

It doesn’t make sense, that is until you factor in the freeze in wages, the increase in living costs and most importantly the high rents and lack of new council housing being build. We have different societies, they have cheaper food, cheaper rent and a system in Spain which helps those who have fallen to hard times.

How do we clean up the streets?

Id certainly recommend people check out the Sussex Partnership, headed up by Jim Deans and a community or volunteers those of you from across Europe or local who want to help tackle the homelessness crisis should start with him.

The Sussex Partnership feed the most homeless in the city, they can be found at the clock tower in Churchill square every Sunday, to get involved and help feed and get to know the real people behind the stigma, drop by! Check out a recent Argus article about the work done by the Sussex Partnership here.

We also have OPSafe – who do some wonderful things in the city including the Rucksack Project which provides the homeless with life saving footwear and suitable clothing to help rough sleepers warm and dry. Sometimes the people who make up the rucksacks leave little messages of inspiration for the homeless or give them creative items to keep their minds active. One of the organisers said:

“its the little things that make a real difference, the human touch”.

Their are many initiatives in Brighton and Hove designed to help the homeless, I would recommend looking for those organisations and groups who have volunteers with lived experience of homelessness. Do this as a start before, even considering some of the larger charities who get huge amounts of funding.

Homeless people have their own culture, a sub-culture within our society which is marginalised. Rough sleepers are often abused or ridiculed by those in our society who clearly demonstrate that they have no sense of compassion, but for so many people within in minority culture being left behind to die.

As recently reported the Brighton Centre to be used as homeless night shelter this winter 30 new places will make a very small difference, but the idea come from the local community originally. Brighton and Hove News reported this:

“The places at the shelter will be allocated from referrals by outreach workers from St Mungo’s and BHT (Brighton Housing Trust). The outreach workers will also offer support to those staying at the shelter, linking them to services and sources of support across Brighton and Hove.”

Talk about taking over from the little people, the establishment keeping their funding options closed to a small number of charities, who by the way have an invite only selection process if you want to get involved in their Galvanise Project. A tick box exercise designed to keep the tills ringing.

No worries the grassroots community are staying away from this project and setting up there own emergency pop up shelter, which will help 60 people sleeping with. They have no help from the council, they don’t get one of the empty buildings or funding from the council, its being entirely funded and crowdsourced by locals for all homeless.

They want to save lives, not use those lives!

[emailpetition id=”2″]

People Fight Back With Bold New Brighton and Hove Housing Conference

The Housing Crisis in Brighton & Hove has hit the point of no return and this Saturday the people affected and left behind finally have a voice with a radical new housing conference set to launch a movement to push for more accountability and transparency from Brighton and Hove City Council.

This is a new vibrant campaign launched based on action not words

Caroline Lucas MP and Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP will lead off at the launch of the Brighton and Hove Housing Coalition this Saturday by answering questions from more than 200 housing activists in Brighton.

Around 20 organisations are coming together to establish a Housing Coalition that will challenge the moribund policies of our City Council and national Government.

Steve Parry, acting Chair of the Coalition, said “With co-operation on this scale we intend to challenge in a real way homelessness, housing squalor, housing for profit rather than for people, and the payment of £millions to overseas tax havens for so-called emergency and temporary accommodation” 

He emphasised that “the Coalition is bringing together those that build homes with those that occupy empty properties, those that help feed the homeless and those that will be opening up community night shelters, those that have a vision for all to have a right to shelter and those who are advocating for those discriminated against by our local authority due to vulnerability or disability.”

It is a welcome sign of possible change that Larissa Reed, the newly appointed Executive Director for Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing at the City Council will be spending an hour discussing the policy and practice of the council.

Local housing campaigner Daniel Harris said ” The time has come for change, for too long vulnerable people have been exploited and neglected, all whilst greedy landlords line their pockets at the expense of people’s lives.

Standards in some places have improved recently but we have a huge crisis with government funding cuts which are hitting the most vulnerable, recent government figures show Brighton and Hove already underperform against national average standards, this is a great concern”.

Council residents, leaseholders, private renters, the homeless, and those in temporary accommodation will be working together and participating in workshops ranging from Community led housing to ‘Alternative housing choices and well-being in later life’, from Living Rents to the horrors of some privately rented housing, from accessibility to the need for respect to be shown to those who are disabled or vulnerable.

To Book Tickets To The Housing Coalition Be Quick

Organisations involved include:

a. B&HCC Tenants

b. Brighton and Hove Pensioners Group

c. Brighton Benefits Campaign

d. Brighton People’s Assembly

e. Bunker Self-Build Housing Co-operative

f. Community Land Trust

g. Community Night Shelter

h. Co-operative Housing in Brighton and Hove (CHIBAH)


j. Good Health Projects

k. Invisible Voices

l. Justice for Tenants

m. Living Rents Campaign

n. Love Activists

o. Mutual Aid in Sussex (MAIS)

p. NFA Residents Association

q. Opsafe

r. Sussex Economic Partnership