A mayor has praised an “inspirational” centre which helps rough-sleepers get their lives back on track.

Brian Fitch said the work of First Base Day Centre in Montpellier Place, Brighton, was amazing – but there was still work to do.

Councillor Fitch, Mayor of Brighton and Hove, said: “I’m very impressed with the centre and it was great to see so many people there.

“I believe that the work that is being carried out there to support its customers and clients is amazing, but there’s still further work to be done.

“Nobody wants to see people living on the street.

“It’s an inhumane way to live and the work the centre is doing to get them back into housing and get people’s lives back on track is inspirational.”

Guests at an open morning on Saturday heard from a former rough sleeper Chris Ellis, who now runs a writing club at the centre.

Mr Ellis, who was homeless eight years ago, said: “I want to pay back the centre for giving me my life back. Friendships you form on the street revolve around drugs and alcohol. In here, the friendships you make are built on positive things.

“Writing really helped me express myself, especially when I was coming off the booze and I was sat in a room shaking and trembling. To have that focus was invaluable.”

According to the Brighton Housing Trust, which runs the centre, rough-sleepers become disengaged with support within six weeks and completely shut off within 26 weeks.

The majority of people who visit the centre suffer from health issues, including dental problems, sexually-transmitted diseases, drug and alcohol abuse and general ill health.

First Base made contact with 232 rough sleepers between October 2013 and June 2014.

Out of those, 113 visited the centre and 81 are now in secure housing.

Simon Hughes, operational manager of First Base Day Centre, said: “This is a place of inspiration. People end up here because they have a lack of money, a lack of friends and a lack of networks.

“The longer people are out on the street, the longer they are likely to stay there.”