Eastbourne’s shocking homelessness figure shames all of us

Homeless in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170126-094058008
Homeless in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170126-094058008

From: Andy Winter

Chief executive, BHT Sussex

St Leonards Road

The Eastbourne Herald (March 1) had several stories about homelessness.

This is unsurprising given the increasing numbers on the streets of the borough.

The first related to a couple who have set up a shoe shining business and I wish them well.

Merely getting people off the streets, essential though that is, is not enough and we need to ensure that people have the right opportunities for training, work experience and employment.

That is why BHT Sussex provides a range of learning and work experience opportunities for our tenants and clients.

Tres Amigos is now offering breakfast for homeless people.

This is great but it is a shame that Eastbourne has not invested in services for homeless people, such as a year-round day centre providing toilet facilities, showers, food, clean and dry clothes, and the help and assistance to get people to move off the street and into accommodation.

Thirdly, there was the story of the converted double-decker bus which is providing shelter for homeless people.

I understand what motivates people to make provision such as this but it is no answer to proper temporary accommodation and hostel services, something that Eastbourne used to have but as a result of funding cuts by the County Council several years ago, they were closed.

And finally there was the shocking news that Eastbourne is nationally seventh on the list for the number of homeless people who have died, with 6.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017.

This should shame all of us into redoubling our efforts to get proper, effective services to get people off the streets and into accommodation.