(This item first appeared in the Brighton Argus on 4th October 2016)
The iconic film about homelessness in Britain, ‘Cathy Come Home’ tells the desperate tale of Cathy, who loses her home, husband and eventually her children through the inflexibility of the British 1960’s welfare system.
We have moved a long way since Cathy, but still there is further to go.
This week we have heard that there are almost 2,000 children living in emergency and temporary accommodation in Brighton and Hove. This is a higher rate than in many other parts of the country.
BHT’s day centre, First Base, works with the visible homeless – those sleeping on the streets. Those in emergency and temporary are the hidden homeless. Our Advice Centre works with people who are invisible, who you wouldn’t notice but who, like Cathy, are facing homelessness and major disruption to their lives and those of their children.
Fortunately the Advice Centre prevents several hundred households from becoming homeless each year. Each case of homelessness we prevent saves the local authority on average £16,000.
Our Court Duty Scheme, a service not available to Cathy, had a 93% success rate over the last year in preventing homelessness.
Advice services prevent homelessness, and without them the invisible people we work with would soon become the visible homeless living on our streets.
A special screening of ‘Cathy Come Home’ will take place at 6.30pm on Monday 10th October at the Duke of Yorks in Brighton. We must never return to the days of ‘Cathy’.