The Member of Parliament for Hastings and Rye, Sally-Ann Hart, visited BHT’s Hastings Advice Centre on 4 September to learn more about its work in preventing homelessness.
Last year the Hastings Advice Centre, which is based at Renaissance House, London Road, St Leonard’s, prevented 346 households from becoming homeless, including 73 at the Court Duty scheme that operates at Hastings County Court. The Hastings Advice Centre is run by BHT and is funded jointly by the government’s Legal Aid Agency and Hastings Borough Council.
Sally-Ann Hart also heard about other work that BHT does in the town including a specialist project for homeless young people (the Hastings Young People’s Service) and permanent homes provided to 83 households.
Social distancing was maintained throughout the visit.
Sally-Ann Hart said:
I was delighted to visit the Hastings Advice Centre and to meet the staff who are doing so much to prevent homelessness and to provide permanent homes.
We all know that home is where the heart is and I am keen to do whatever I can to support initiatives that prevent homelessness and to help people into their own homes, especially young people.
I have raised my concerns regarding homelessness and rough sleeping in the House of Commons and am pleased that the government is spending £105 million on immediate support available for local areas to fund exactly the kind of interventions that I believe are needed.
BHT chief executive, Andy Winter, said:
This was the first visit we have hosted in any of our services since the lockdown, so it was an absolute delight to welcome Sally-Ann to the Hastings Advice Centre.
We hear a lot about ending rough sleeping for good. Our belief is that, as far as homelessness is concerned, we should end it before it begins and we can do that best through a cost-effective, legal aid system. Can you imagine the strain that a further 346 homeless households would place on already over-stretched services?
Homes are at the heart of everything we do, whether it is preventing people losing theirs, accommodating homeless young people, or providing permanent homes.
Andy Winter sounded a word of warning to any tenant who thinks that the moratorium on evictions will be continuously extended. “87% of tenants have been paying their rents in full and a further 8% have come to an arrangement with their landlords. My message to the other 5% is to speak to your landlord, pay whatever you can, and get advice as soon as possible from a reputable advice service such as the Hastings Advice Centre, which can be contacted on 01424 452618”.