We provide essential services across Brighton & Hove, Eastbourne and Hastings, as well as elsewhere in Sussex.
Over the past 50 years BHT Sussex has developed a diverse menu of services to support people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, and people who have complex needs.
Our services include: day centre provision, residential rehabilitation, mental health services, specialist housing and legal advice and work, learning and training initiatives.
Real life stories from BHT Sussex
Increasingly we are working with people who are in work or who become homeless having lost their job. Our Accommodation for Work Project was set up to help people like Enes. He worked as a chef and lived in shared accommodation in Brighton. When the job came to an end, he struggled to find another job. His landlord would not accept housing benefit and he quickly became homeless.
He slept rough in doorways, struggling to find work and accommodation. He made a homeless application with the council and was referred to our Accommodation for Work Project. This was the first time in his life that Enes had been homeless. When he came for his interview, it was clear that he was in a state of shock. Mindful that he was rough sleeping, project staff made it possible for him to view a room the same day. Fortunately for Enes, a room had become vacant just the day before.
The Whitehawk Inn provides services beyond being a local community support service and adult education centre.
Helen was referred to us by the Discretionary Payment team at Brighton and Hove City Council. She wanted advice on how to reduce her deficit monthly budget. A significant rent increase had caused a monthly deficit.
In Helen’s support session, we completed a monthly budget planner. We then discussed options available to her to reduce the deficit, including income maximisation (for example, renting out her second bedroom, working part time, and downsizing) and reducing outgoings such as cheaper utility bills, water etc., and grants which she may be eligible for through the Council, Turn2Us and utility trust funds.
We completed a benefit check which showed she was not eligible for any further benefits.
Around half those sleeping rough in Brighton and Hove have a local connection. Others come to Brighton for many reasons: the image of the city that has attracted many of us, perhaps a happy childhood memory of visiting the seaside, or because of its reputation for tolerance and acceptance (for example drugs and the acceptance of LGBT people).
Very, very rarely does someone say that they came to Brighton because of the services for homeless people. Unfortunately, when people arrive in the city without a plan, without social networks, or without considerable financial resources, they can find themselves on the streets.
Michael is a 63 year old man who came to First Base in November 2017. He was new to Brighton and had become homeless after the break-up of his marriage and losing his job. He had moved to Brighton as he thought it would be a more tolerant place.
Martha was referred to Shore House following an intentional overdose of prescription medication that nearly proved fatal, and which resulted in a hospital admission.
As Martha was too physically unwell to travel, the Shore House manager offered to conduct the initial assessment with her in hospital. Martha was offered a self-contained flat within Shore House and was subsequently discharged from hospital to Shore House with integrated support from an Occupational Therapist.
The Hastings Young People’s Service does what the name suggests, providing accommodation and support for homeless young people in Hastings and St. Leonards. Frankie came to the service in October 2016. She had held a tenancy elsewhere but due to relationship breakdown, found it difficult to cope and was ultimately evicted. This left her homeless and socially isolated.
Frankie responded positively to having stability and a constant source of support from the staff team. She engaged well with her key worker using a PIE (Psychologically Informed Environment) approach and she was able to explore reasons for her isolation, history of self-harming, depression, aspirations and visualising what her future would look like. This helped Frankie understand her needs and make a plan to move on.
Helping someone off the streets is not as simple as just providing a roof over their head. Becs was referred to our 52 bed hostel, Phase One, in April 2013 having lost her accommodation. She had previously had her own independent tenancies but these had broken down due to rent arrears which had led to her entering a negative cycle and her engagement with support services had decreased.
Her physical health was poor due to her long-term alcohol and drug addiction which had also impacted her psychological well-being as she had been struggling with establishing positive sleep patterns causing her to feel depressed.
When she came to Phase One she wanted to work towards again getting her own independent accommodation and to re-establish contact with her son.
Last year our advice services in Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings prevented 817 households from becoming homeless. The impact of this is huge: fewer people on the streets, less demands on local council homelessness services, or moving children away from the schools and their friends. Some people become homeless, not through any fault of their own.
Mike moved into a Housing Association flat in 1980. A few months later he was offered a job as a caretaker at a nearby social club – a job he did for 36 years until he was made redundant. In 1996 he had moved to another flat owned by the housing association, but unbeknown to him, his employers had taken a sub-lease on the flat. In law, his employer had become his landlord. The social club went into liquidation.
Not only did he lose his job, but he wasn’t given any redundancy pay and he was told to leave his home of 20 years.
Paul is a 49 year-old man who was street homeless in Brighton for four years, suffering from heroin, crack cocaine and alcohol addiction.
He also has multiple physical health difficulties. For a long period of his life, Paul’s closest companion was his dog Lil. As Paul explains in this account below, he was someone who other support services found difficult to reach, but he eventually managed to turn his life around with the support of BHT’s Addiction Services.
Neil started sleeping rough around two years ago. He was suffering from physical and mental health problems that had been exacerbated by life on the streets.
When he first started coming to First Base, Neil was sleeping under Brighton’s Palace Pier. After sleeping out all night, he looked forward to the chance to get warm and have a shower, put on clean clothes, and have a hot meal. More importantly, he was able to get support and advice to help him find a way out of rough sleeping.
First Base supported Neil to access temporary accommodation but after a serious deterioration in his mental health he was admitted to hospital. While he was in hospital Neil lost his accommodation and, on discharge, he returned to rough sleeping
Shore House provides accommodation and support for people with multiple and complex needs. That means they will have a combination of alcohol and drug addictions, mental health problems, and other chaotic or destructive behaviours. Often they will have experienced repeated trauma throughout their lives.
Mo moved to Shore House after being discharged from Mill View Hospital. Before her hospital admission she had been evicted from three services for violence, aggression, and causing extensive damage to her room.
She had a history of being street homeless and she displayed various anti-social behaviours including urinating and defecating in gardens, damaging cars, shouting verbal abuse, and making allegations of assault and rape when attempts were made to remove her from private property.
Recovery from mental ill health and moving into independent accommodation can take several years and requires individuals rebuilding many parts of their lives. This is the account of one client from the Route One Project, another of BHT’s mental health services.
“Around five years ago my journey began in the Route One Project and from the bottom of my heart l am so thankful to you all for picking me up and dusting me off, ready for the new chapter l am in now. l am taking the skills and tools as l call it in to sustaining independent living in so many aspects. I moved into my council property in March 2018 and what we have achieved in the time in the project has been champion. I say we because that is what it has been – a team effort.
“I have Bipolar One and when l came to Route One l was in a state and l had just moved out of a hostel for homeless people. I am not putting down the great work they do but it was making my illness worse, resulting in me being admitted to hospital.
For most of us we get our identity and status from what we do. BHT’s Intern Programme was set up to prepare people with a history of homelessness, mental ill health or addictions to make that transition from unemployment into work.
Charlie is a 32 year old white British male. He was born with congenital hand deformities, as well as structural defects which cause lifelong incontinence issues. Charlie was bullied during his school years and began using alcohol and cannabis aged 14. In his early 20’s he found employment as a telesales advisor and an early year’s child practitioner. However, each job didn’t last more than 12 months due to his increasing substance misuse.