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 and Hove A City of Hope, Dreams and Desperation

I became homeless again in Jan 2016

Tired
Me tired but alive Having recently went to the full council whereby I presented a petition signed by over 1500 people, detailing the conditions I have to live in. I am in Emergency Housing, My Landlord Helgor Trading Limited – Own two further properties housing the homeless and vulnerable, in total I make this 130 rooms.

Now in the council presentation and the following debate if you haven’t already seen the video you can watch here, the council acknowledged my statement, some councillors even come up to me after and told me how brave I was to come forward, I was told the council officers were looking into my case and I will hear back.

I also set out a plan to improve the standards in emergency accommodation, the initial room they put me in, room 24, was not previously inspected, it hadn’t been cleaned and showed signs of drugs use. I still have the previous occupants diary left under the mattress. I was provided a tiny room, no bed covers, a microwave and they said it was suitable, I saw another door kicked in downstairs and panicked.

I then in manic mode took my belongings and put them in Bishops Move, It costs me £81 per month to store my belongings. I get £74 a week to live on from ESA, with bills including the £50 service charge at Percival Terrace  to pay before I even feed myself I am left with £64 a month or about £2.30 to live off, could you live of that?

The stuff in storage by the way is going to be destroyed or sold because i haven’t been able to afford to pay this, I owe £161, the council have a duty under the housing act to ensure my belongings are not destroyed, they deny this knowledge because I arranged the storage myself. The council office was closed, I was given no advice and they failed to hand over correctly, The council say its affordable if its affordable why am I losing my property.

Check out this video which gives you an understanding on how this is continuing to effect me.


Posted by Daniel Harris on Saturday, 9 April 2016

I am not looking for pity, I am exposing the truth.

My History

Find out more about Daniel Harris

Revelation number 1

On the 16th December at 10:49 am 12 days away from being street homeless and facing eviction I spoke to a housing options manager, yes i was in a manic state, they hadn’t even looked at my homelessness application and proceeded to say point out that i wasn’t the only one on the list, and rolled out figures like bumbling politician. I had made him aware that just the week before I had a panic attack well, four in one hour after meeting him and seeing the officer who turned me away in 2012, unlawfully. and that I had to be hospitalised, however he was rude to me and treated me like a fool. I filed an instant complaint with Brighton and Hove City Council which was never followed up.

To my amazement the same member of staff I complained about was the decision maker for the suitability review on the property I live in, the same one with the waterfall windows.

They decided on 8 weeks 1 day the property is suitable, I am not going to go into my circumstances but i assure you it is absolutely not suitable and as the council have a duty of care they are required by law to ensure a property is suitable and make a decision on the evidence I have provided, the housing options manager failed to acknowledge half of the reasons and for this and the fact he is subject to an official complaint by me means the council have failed to provide a suitable responce withint he 8 week time limit as discloded in the housing act 1966.

I am looking for someone who can see the human side to this story

I need help to stand up and fight for my rights. Feel free to check out my linkedin public profile after having to leave my last role due to ill health, I am disgusted I am or anyone is expected to live in these conditions.

I am an intelligent person, I can speak well when I am not manic or in a depressive period, I would welcome press interviews, tv or radio interviews or any way to expose this wrong doing and help changes peoples lives for the better.

If you want to interview me or have any comments please email them to daniel@survivorblog.co.uk

Revelation number 2 – Another Death

I have been informed that a vulnerable resident here at Pervical Terrace was found dead (suicide) last week, I don’t know anymore information and will update the blog when I have it, however for someone like me to break this news and the local media ignoring this issue shows their is something wrong here. How many more people have to die in these conditions?

Revelation Number 3 – Images from a Baron Homes property for those in emergency housing.

Thanks to another source I have here are some images, if you want to use these images you are required to ask me first for permission to use, you are welcome to share this blog on social media to highlight this issue locally.

I urgently need help from a lawyer to get justice for this, if you are a journalist or a researcher for a documentary Brighton’s Housing Mess and the individual stories linked need to been seen and heard to evoke change.

Again if you want to get in touch email me daniel@survivorblog.co.uk.

I look forward now to my next petition, make sure you subscribe to this blog for more updates or add me on Facebook.