28th February is Woolly Hat Day for kids in Brighton and Hove
On 28th February, businesses, churches, schools, dance clubs, and many, many individuals in Brighton and Hove will be wearing woolly hats. Not because it’s cold, though it may be! But because every week there are 10 new rough sleeper cases in Brighton and Hove, and because without the work of Project Antifreeze, there would be many more.
It’s impossible to walk through the city of Brighton and Hove without seeing just how bad homelessness is. Project Antifreeze was set up in 1997 to prevent deaths on the streets. This work involves going onto the streets to hand out warm clothes, hot drinks and food, and their day centre, which provides health care support, and the necessary referrals to get clients into housing as quickly as possible. However, preventing deaths in the homeless community has become an issue that is no longer just solved by a roof and four walls.
A recent survey found that 50% of rough sleepers were not homeless for the first time, and an astonishing 60% of those housed had fallen back into homelessness.* It is also sadly the case that temporary accommodation is where a high number of the homeless community die by suicide. The issue of appropriate support for the newly housed has been flagged recently by Brighton MP Caroline Lucas. The fact is, the problems that cause people to rough sleep don’t disappear when they find accommodation; in reality they are often compounded by the time they’ve spent on the streets.
Last year, Project work was extended into the House-Reach initiative, which involves weekly visits is to see how the newly housed are coping. This includes checking they’ve got gas and electricity, food and that they are taking care of themselves. It also includes making sure their benefits are coming through and, if they aren’t, providing any assistance needed with forms or appointments.
Sometimes health problems, often aggravated by sleeping rough, can prevent those recently housed accessing the services they need. When money is spent on food, it’s often not available for travel to appointments. Being unable to travel can also lead to isolation, which compounds the mental health problems often already present.
It’s because of these problems that home visits are key, according to one of the Antifreeze House-Reach workers: “It’s good to have a chat and to see if there’s anything in their behaviour that’s out of character. It’s so important just to have the chance to say, “Are you ok?” as well as to check on all the practical stuff.”
If you’d like to help Project Antifreeze stay true to its aim to prevent deaths in the homeless community, why not take part in Woolly Hat Day on 28thFebruary? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to offthefence.org.uk/woollyhatday for more details
Off The Fence is registered with the Fundraising Regulator. Charity number 1108777.