Homeless in Hastings need better coordinated support system


From: Steve Wise, St Leonards on Sea Methodist Church and Hope Kitchen, St Leonards

There are many homeless people in our town and many charities who try to help – Seaview, Hope Kitchen, His Place, Dom’s Food Mission, Warming up the Homeless, Salvation Army and of course Snowflake who provide winter shelters, plus the input from many individuals and church groups. This of course is invaluable to those who find themselves homeless. The problems encountered when trying to find accommodation are myriad. Benefits for housing are no longer paid to landlords, hence the reluctance to rent out a room, flat or bedsit.

The difficulty in claiming benefit without an address. Seaview can help with that and also access to health care. When someone does find accommodation the backlash from those left on the streets is dreadful. People are mugged, beaten up and have money and property stolen to prevent a kicking.

The problems are far more reaching than just finding someone a home. The support systems are very sparse unless the individual has a problem with mental health, drugs or alcohol abuse. “Ordinary” homeless people have little or no chance, which is probably why their life expectancy is around 35 to 45 years.

There must be a way to coordinate all local services to really make a difference to our town.