HOMELESS people have told of the help they have received during lockdown.

People living on the streets in Brighton and Hove were left in turmoil after day centres – a primary source of food and sanitation – were shut during the coronavirus crisis.

Brighton and Hove City Council worked with hotels to broker arrangements to house the homeless throughout the lockdown and were given money to do so by the Government.

Outreach services such as St Mungo’s and Arch Healthcare have been working round the clock to ensure those inside the hotels were given support.

Speaking in a new film for Arch Healthcare by director Amy Sargeant, which highlights the work of the community interest company throughout the pandemic, Jordon Johnson said: “I’ve been in this hotel now for about seven or eight weeks.

“I was living on the streets before, nearly three years I’ve been on the streets.

The Argus:

Jordon Johnson Credit: Arch Healthcare / Director Amy Sargeant

“They were very, very helpful to me, I didn’t have to go in there all I had to do was speak to them on the phone and they sorted my prescription out. I don’t think I’ve been in the day centre for at least nine months to have a cup of tea or nothing, I was just taking loads of drugs – having medication, drugs.

“It was like wow, I was going to end up dead and I’ve come here and I go get my meds every morning … I’ve got a lot of hope since I’ve been here.

“I feel safe, that’s what it is, having someone awake around you that’s got your best interests at heart and it’s also having somewhere with a bit of structure like with a wall and a door. It’s somewhere safe.

“I would love a job and wages and routine and structure in my life. I want to do something educational like a course and like I said, try to get a job. I want to better my life.”

Health practitioners are on duty from 9am to 5pm every day. They have found many health problems have been going unaddressed and are using the opportunity to treat conditions and sign patients up for GPs.

Emma Jones said: “I moved down to Brighton from London because I was fleeing domestic violence. I’m claiming I’m homeless because if I go back to that house, my life is in danger and my children’s lives are in danger.

The Argus:

Emma Jones Credit: Arch Healthcare / Director Amy Sargeant

"Arch have been great, they really have been great. I still suffer from really bad depression which sets my asthma and my epilepsy off, I was also a heroin addict and they’ve helped me get on a script and I feel like I’m my normal self again.”

Some residents are people who were not known to homeless outreach services before the pandemic. The “entrenched rough sleepers” had never engaged with services but are now working with organisations such as Arch Healthcare.

Arch Healthcare doctor Tim Worthley said: “You have people who have not had somewhere nice to sleep for decades and they’ve never had their own shower or toilet and they never had three meals a day. And you put them somewhere and say we’re going to look after you, support you, if you start feeling poorly, we’re going to get someone to see you and move you to somewhere where you can receive care, but in the meantime you’re here and you’re safe.

The Argus:

Dr Tim Worthley Credit: Arch Healthcare / Director Amy Sargeant

“You don’t need to worry about where you are sleeping, you don’t need to worry about what food you’re going to get.

“The extraordinary thing is if you give people that respect and that safety and that space, they are able then to reflect on what’s bought them here and reflect on how they want to change, because there’s something they want in their lives.”

Director Amy Sargeant said: "I am grateful to Jordan, Emma and the ARCH clinical team for speaking to me about life in Brighton’s Hotels during lockdown.

"By spending a week filming across a number of hotels in the city, I was struck by how much people have benefitted in different ways from having shelter and services to help them.

"The St Mungo’s team, who are running the hotels, were incredibly welcoming and helpful, as well as dedicated to their clients. I hope people can continue to benefit from the efforts made during this time."