We should never tolerate homelessness

This is the text of my Opinion column published in the Brighton Argus on Friday 5th June 2015

Brighton and Hove is one of the wealthiest cities in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.  So why do we have more than 130 people sleeping rough on our streets?

It is to our collective shame that in recent years the number of men and women who are street homeless in the city has increased. Sleeping rough can be a dangerous and traumatising experience. Many people who sleep rough suffer from multiple health conditions, such as mental health problems and physical illnesses.

Without the work of BHT and our partners, including Brighton and Hove City Council, Sussex Police, CRI, the YMCA and others, there would be many, many more people sleeping on the streets of the city.

The average life expectancy for a man living on the streets is 47 years, for a woman it is just 43.

Rough sleepers are 35 times more likely to kill themselves than the general population.

I believe that by 2020 we should have reached the point where nobody has to be street homeless in Brighton and Hove.

Will this be easy? Absolutely not. Is that possible? Absolutely, yes! Can one charity, like BHT, achieve it on our own?

No, it will take massive collective ambition and effort, political leadership, determination, and a realignment and focus of many services, all coming together with the objective of ending rough sleeping in Brighton and Hove by 2020.

On Saturday, BHT will be launching a major new report saying just that.

Brighton and Hove prides itself for its tolerant and inclusive culture.  But we should never tolerate homelessness.

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