OUT IN THE FIELD: Street beggars, homelessness and a new cinema is in town

Homeless in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170126-094015008
Homeless in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170126-094015008

Regular readers will know I am not the Towner’s biggest fan but even I can’t stop raving about the new cinema on the ground floor of the concrete carbuncle. The auditorium seats more than 80 people, has a diverse programme of upcoming films with recent releases (we saw Widows recently and Olivia Coleman in The Favourite is on next month), documentaries, family screenings, queer film and screen classics. And it’s just £8.50 or even cheaper for members, concessions and students. Tonight, no doubt, the roof will be raised at the mayor’s fundraiser: The Greatest Showman Singalong. I cannot wait.

An email dropped into my inbox this week announcing the appointment of new guest relation ambassador Barbara Fontyn at the Grand Hotel. I love the hotel and adore the staff and concierges even more because of the way they make every single guest feel so special. It’s evident already that Barbara, who looked after guests at the recent Women in Business awards, is managing to fill the very large shoes left vacant when her predecessor Madeleine Verrall departed from the Grand after 15 years in the role and epitomised everything the Grand is,

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On a more serious note, a friend of mine in the housing and homeless sector walked through the town centre and along the seafront on a bit of a recce last week. They counted 22 people begging for cash along the route and I am told that of that number, 16 have somewhere to live and have been housed by the council and its partners and also offered help in finding work and getting their lives back on track. Needless to say I shall be pelted with rotten tomatoes for suggesting once again that people should not give cash to beggars and donate their money instead to the charities who deal with the town’s homeless and vulnerable.

Continuing on the theme of homeless and vulnerable – and with temperatures set to plunge in the next few days – Eastbourne council and its partners has recently triggered a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol(emergency extra shelter beds during very cold weather) from Wednesday to next Monday. It’s for rough sleepers and others who either cannot or do not want to access the normal Winter Night Shelter run by a rota of churches across Eastbourne from December 1 to the last night of February. The council team is out providing accommodation for people sleeping rough but if you see somebody out on the streets, ask them if they know about the night shelter scheme and if they say they’re not eligible, point them in the direction of the Customer Care Centre at 1 Grove Road which is open from 8.30am to 5pm.

I’m a big supporter of independent businesses in Little Chelsea and this week was delighted to see a group heartily chuckling at the window of Grove Road Cards, where some of the funniest cards in town can be found. The delightful owner tells me they are a big hit with shoppers and business is booming. My next stop is the Art House and Skylark and will report back.