FIVE coffins were paraded through Brighton city centre as protesters marched calling for more action to tackle rising homelessness in Sussex.

The five coffins were used to represent the number of homeless people who have died on the streets of Brighton in recent months.

In hail and rain, almost one hundred people joined the march from the Old Steine to Brighton Town Hall and then onto the the Peace Statue in Hove.

Event organiser Maria Garrett said: “This event is really important to highlight the homelessness crisis.

“It’s not just about rough sleepers either, it’s about people that are in hostels and emergency accommodation.

"It has reached a crisis point now.”

The protesters stood under pouring hail outside the Bartholomew Square based of Brighton and Hove City Council to urge the authority to change their weather protocol, to account for wind, rain and hail.

Miss Garrett added: “Would you like to sit out in the streets in this weather for two to three consecutive days before the council opens up any of their resources?”

Participant Philippa Howe from Hanover said: “No one should have to sit out in the freezing cold, people are on the streets and people are dying.

“The council need to do more to help, but they are cutting more and more services and shutting hostels. There are so many empty buildings in Brighton that could be put to good use.”

Amongst the protesters were people from campaigns such as Care2 who said we need to make progress instead of using the Vagrancy Act of 1824.

Frances Donnelly, from Care2, said: “The 1820s was a time when the law supported slavery and the subjugation of women. We need a contemporary response that is compassionate and effective.

“The number of rough sleepers in Brighton has risen by about 100% in the last five years.

"The crushing burden of austerity is falling on the shoulders of those with the least and fining rough sleepers for non-aggressive begging is placing an additional burden on the most vulnerable.

"It’s our responsibility to fight back and say ‘no’ to pointless punishment.”

Miss Donnelly finished by handing in a petition, with over 50,000 signatures, demanding that rough sleepers not be fined for begging.

Dan Thompson, of Worthing People’s Assembly said: “PSPO’s are not a solution to the problem.

“It is an ‘out of sight out of mind’ mentality that only serves to fast track people into the criminal justice system rather that tackling the root causes of the problem.”

Lionel, who has been sleeping rough on and off for 20 years said: “We shouldn’t be homeless, none of us, but we came to Brighton because it’s where we get the most services, now those services are being slashed.”

The march continued to the Clock Tower where the protesters held a vigil for those who had died on the streets.