Tents in town centre spark call for action on Eastbourne homelessness

An Eastbourne man is calling for more to be done about homelessness as the town centre regenerates.

Friday, 4th October 2019, 1:40 pm
A tent set up by a homeless person in Hyde Gardens, Eastbourne

Dan Woolridge shared a photo of tents set up by homeless people next to the works in Hyde Gardens.

He said, “You see all this regeneration and all the effort going into it and there’s an increasing homeless situation.

Homeless people have set up a campsite in Hyde Gardens, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby)

“It’s a bit shocking really. I can’t work out why there isn’t more of an effort being made to help these people.”

Dan, who had previously been homeless himself, said, “I was on the streets, sleeping in bus stops. I appreciate how difficult it is.

“This time of year the weather is getting worse and worse, you can’t imagine what it’s going to like for people sleeping rough in the town centre, with all the works and it being freezing cold.

“There’s got to be a better mental health support system to help. You have got lots of buildings which have been empty for years, why can’t they be made into emergency shelters?”

The 45-year-old added, “It really bothers me. I read the council’s policy for the homeless which is all well and good but it doesn’t say anything proactive about it. I have never seen a dedicated team out there on foot addressing issues.

“Everywhere has got a homeless issue, and we all know there aren’t enough houses being built, affordable houses particularly. I’m sure every council is in the same situation.

“It’s definitely got worse. I’ve lived here for 18 years. You’d see the odd person walking around, but that was it. It can’t be right. There’s got to be something that can be done.”

Eastbourne Borough Council said it is working to tackle rough sleeping in collaboration with partner agencies including housing, adult social care, mental health, and substance misuse services.

A spokesperson said, “We provide dedicated support for rough sleepers through two key schemes which are making significant impacts.

“The Rough Sleeping Initiative has been in operation across Eastbourne and Hastings since October 2018 and has so far relieved 98 people from rough sleeping and prevented 74 others from becoming homeless.

“The Rapid Rehousing Pathway works with rough sleepers and those at high risk of rough sleeping, helping to find new them accommodation and providing ongoing support to prevent a return to rough sleeping in the future.

“With our partners, we are looking to secure further funding to ensure these valuable services are maintained.”

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and Eastbourne Borough Council have invested £8.2 million into the town centre improvement scheme, which is being run by ESCC.

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