Mayor of Brighton and Hove praises 'inspirational' centre

Operational manager Simon Hughes with Brighton and Hove Mayor Brian Fitch  and wife Norah during their visit to an open morning at First Base Day Centre

Operational manager Simon Hughes with Brighton and Hove Mayor Brian Fitch and wife Norah during their visit to an open morning at First Base Day Centre

First published in News by , Reporter

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.”

Comments (3)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

4:51pm Fri 29 Aug 14

Goldenwight says...

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 think it would have been even greater to find absolutely nobody there. Even better if the centre closed down through lack of use.

It is a sad fact that many homeless charities (and I'm not familiar with First Base, so I can't comment on them) actually have a vested interest in keeping people homeless, particularly those which operate accommodation in addition to daytime support services.

If this sounds bizarre, consider the following situation. Homeless person walks into day centre. Staff take details, put them on their list for accommodation when it comes up (they generally charge LAs around £400 a week for this btw) and then cherry picks clients- instantly throwing those who do not conform back out onto the streets. From day one they are making money, while ensuring they have a pool of candidates for supported accommodation services which many of them do not need.

Now, consider this situation. Homeless person walks into day centre. Staff phone local landlords who ALWAYS have (admittedly poor quality) cheap, no deposit required accommodation. Client moves on immediately. Day centre staff find themselves out of work, charity's accommodation stands half empty (there will always be a small number of people for whom private rented accommodation is not an option.)

Now ask yourself- is it in the best of the charity to provide the homeless with what they need- i.e. instant accommodation and an instant exit from the streets?
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 think it would have been even greater to find absolutely nobody there. Even better if the centre closed down through lack of use. It is a sad fact that many homeless charities (and I'm not familiar with First Base, so I can't comment on them) actually have a vested interest in keeping people homeless, particularly those which operate accommodation in addition to daytime support services. If this sounds bizarre, consider the following situation. Homeless person walks into day centre. Staff take details, put them on their list for accommodation when it comes up (they generally charge LAs around £400 a week for this btw) and then cherry picks clients- instantly throwing those who do not conform back out onto the streets. From day one they are making money, while ensuring they have a pool of candidates for supported accommodation services which many of them do not need. Now, consider this situation. Homeless person walks into day centre. Staff phone local landlords who ALWAYS have (admittedly poor quality) cheap, no deposit required accommodation. Client moves on immediately. Day centre staff find themselves out of work, charity's accommodation stands half empty (there will always be a small number of people for whom private rented accommodation is not an option.) Now ask yourself- is it in the best of the charity to provide the homeless with what they need- i.e. instant accommodation and an instant exit from the streets? Goldenwight
  • Score: -1

12:10am Sat 30 Aug 14

Maxwell's Ghost says...

There are so many sleeping on the streets in made up beds in shop doorways in the daytime, I've started telling visitors they are actors from the Fringe Festival to hide away the city's shame.
Today a young chap begging in Bond Street lifted a card up asking for cash form me in a very brightly coloured ink and a beautiful font. Well done for street art. I clapped and put the £12 I had in my pocket into the car parking machine instead and wondered how it had come that it cost more to park in the city than to feed the poor for a day.
There are so many sleeping on the streets in made up beds in shop doorways in the daytime, I've started telling visitors they are actors from the Fringe Festival to hide away the city's shame. Today a young chap begging in Bond Street lifted a card up asking for cash form me in a very brightly coloured ink and a beautiful font. Well done for street art. I clapped and put the £12 I had in my pocket into the car parking machine instead and wondered how it had come that it cost more to park in the city than to feed the poor for a day. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 1

3:38pm Sat 30 Aug 14

Goldenwight says...

Maxwell's Ghost wrote:
There are so many sleeping on the streets in made up beds in shop doorways in the daytime, I've started telling visitors they are actors from the Fringe Festival to hide away the city's shame. Today a young chap begging in Bond Street lifted a card up asking for cash form me in a very brightly coloured ink and a beautiful font. Well done for street art. I clapped and put the £12 I had in my pocket into the car parking machine instead and wondered how it had come that it cost more to park in the city than to feed the poor for a day.
Sarcastic, but unfortunately so true, mate. This is probably why the homeless don't have cars!
[quote][p][bold]Maxwell's Ghost[/bold] wrote: There are so many sleeping on the streets in made up beds in shop doorways in the daytime, I've started telling visitors they are actors from the Fringe Festival to hide away the city's shame. Today a young chap begging in Bond Street lifted a card up asking for cash form me in a very brightly coloured ink and a beautiful font. Well done for street art. I clapped and put the £12 I had in my pocket into the car parking machine instead and wondered how it had come that it cost more to park in the city than to feed the poor for a day.[/p][/quote]Sarcastic, but unfortunately so true, mate. This is probably why the homeless don't have cars! Goldenwight
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree