This coming Thursday I will have been employed by BHT for 25 years, almost half my life! Over the years BHT has become a much larger and more professional organisation. The main beneficiaries are our clients who receive more and better services. When I started there were less that a dozen employees. I was a hostel worker before becoming manager of our residential mental health and substance misuse services. We now employ 250 members of staff and work with over 10,000 men and women each year in Brighton & Hove, Eastbourne, Hastings and beyond.
I am really proud of the quality of BHT’s staff, who are driven, passionate and skilled to make a difference to their clients, whether it is finding accommodation, working through complex mental health or addiction problems, or preventing homelessness through our advice services. One of the great things about having been with BHT for so long is going around Brighton and bumping into people whose lives have been changed by the work of BHT.
There are two big issues moving forward, the provision of affordable housing for local people, and the risks posed by alcohol and drugs.
The future of social housing is uncertain so we have to look for solutions in the private rented sector. Proposed changes to housing benefit entitlement will make it more difficult for people on low incomes to get accommodation, and we can expect to see a huge increase in homelessness and rough sleeping. I hope the government will rethink this proposal.
The other huge issue is the increase use and damage caused by alcohol and drugs. This has the real potential for undermining the economy of areas such as Brighton and Hove, and as a City we need to rethink our relationship with alcohol and drugs before more damage is done.
Where do I want to be in 25 years? Happily retired, watching cricket at Hove with my grandchildren!
(My colleague John Holmstrom is also celebrating 25 years at BHT. I have asked him to write something about his time at BHT. I will post his thoughts tomorrow)