Today (Wednesday 7th September) eighty friends of Brighton Housing Trust will gather at St Stephen’s Hall, home to First Base Day Centre, to celebrate the building’s rich 250-year heritage.
Originally built as an Assembly Room in the Old Steine, the building attracted many visitors and became the focal point of the town’s entertainment during the late 1700’s. In 1822 it was connected to The Royal Pavilion via a covered passageway and converted into a private chapel, used by King George IV, William IV and Queen Victoria.
The Pavilion estate was sold in 1850; in order to save the chapel from demolition it was moved brick-by-brick to Montpelier Place where it opened as a church and later became a centre for deaf people. In 1984 BHT launched First Base Day Centre for men and women experiencing street homelessness in the town.
We’re delighted to mark this fantastic occasion with so many people and organisations that have supported the work of First Base Day Centre. The building is now a place of change, where men and women with a history of sleeping rough are supported to make the changes needed to move away from rough sleeping, into education, training, work and, ultimately, secure accommodation.
Guests will hear from the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Cllr. Pete West, who volunteered at First Base in the 1980’s, Operational Manager, Simon Hughes, and Sara Peskett who has run a client-focused Heritage Project for the last three years at First Base.
BHT received funding from the Homes & Communities Agency in 2008, in partnership with Brighton & Hove City Council, & the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2010 to extensively and sympathetically restore St Stephen’s Hall for future use. Conservation of original architectural features and installation of contemporary facilities has created a welcoming, empowering and aspirational environment for clients of the service.
My colleague, Simon Hughes, got it absolutely right when he recently said: “We hope that St Stephen’s Hall continues to evolve. It is our belief that nobody should be rough sleeping, and by working together with other agencies in the city we hope that in the future day centres for people who are street homeless will no longer be needed.”
First Base Day Centre relies on donations to provide vital services for people who are rough sleeping, and every contribution makes a difference. To support the work of First Base Day Centre please visit our website.