A charity which provides a vital service to the homeless is urging its supporters to speak out against council proposals to reduce its funding.
East Sussex County Council is currently consulting over proposals to cut its adult social care budget by £40m, a move which will hit a number of services helping the most vulnerable members of society.
Among the services in the firing line is the Seaview Project, which provides a lifeline to the homeless of Hastings and St Leonards.
Seaview receives around £117,000 a year from ESCC.
But the team behind the project say any cut in funding could force them to reduce the opening hours of the Southwater Centre in Hatherley Road.
This means the 100 people who use the centre each day would have restricted access to one-to-one sessions, support groups, educational and work placement programmes, and range of activities, as well as necessities such as clothes and hot meals offered at the centre.
The centre also acts as a contact point between agencies, such as substance misuse teams and mental health services and the homeless community.
Annie Whelan, incoming chief officer at the Seaview Project, said: “The problem is when people do make big cuts to services in the voluntary sector, they generally do not understand the knock-on impact. We are the access point for lots of other organisations for this particular community because Seaview is seen as not only the best point of contact but as having the expertise needed.
“So, if we have to cut our services, all these other agencies that are using us as an access point will also be affected.
“It will have a bigger effect than people realise.”
Reducing opening hours would also put more pressure on statutory services.
Sue Burgess, operations manager at the Seaview Project, said: “The police and A&E say they are more busy when we are closed.
“So it will have an impact on the statutory services.”
A decision on the cuts will be made at County Hall in the new year.
Seaview is not well-known across East Sussex, so the team says it is vital those living in this corner of the county make their views known to the decision-makers in Lewes.
Sue said: “We need the people of Hastings and St Leonards to get behind us and say how much they value Seaview.
“Some agencies straddle the whole county, but we are very much centralised in Hastings and St Leonards responding to local need and that’s why our voices need to be heard.”
* To have your say, visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/ascbudget or email firstname.lastname@example.org