Last year, 1,055 young people approached Brighton & Hove City Council for help with their homelessness, which is an increase of 40% over two years. In addition, ‘rough sleeping’ has increased in the City by 929% since 2010.

(1. Sources: ‘Making homeless young people count’ Centrepoint 2018; ‘Rough Sleeping’, Homeless Link 2017).

Brighton-based charity, Sussex Nightstop, has been working to decrease these frightening statistics and, through early intervention, stop the repetitive cycle of youth homelessness by supporting vulnerable young people who are particularly at risk of becoming homeless, especially when a family breakdown is involved. Its summer ‘Sleep Safe’ campaign is particularly poignant at this time of year as, during the summer months, the focus on youth homelessness subsides due to the good weather.

However, the risks to young people are even more prevalent during this time than in the colder months, as they are able to sleep on the beach in the warmer climate, exposing themselves to a great many dangers. Sleeping rough on the beach is unsafe leaving young people open to negative influences such as abuse, potential violence and the behaviour of late-night drunken revellers.

This summer, working alongside its activities to help stop youth homelessness, the Sussex Nightstop team is eager to reach out to and help the ‘Hidden Homeless’ – those young people who sofa-surf at friends or relatives whilst trying to find stable housing or accommodation.

The facts are scary, one in five young people, aged 16 to 25, have sofa-surfed (2. Source: www.channel4.com/news/sofa-surfing-hidden-homeless-britain-youth-benefits) and new UK-wide research from the BBC has found that 41% of young people have stayed with friends on floors or sofas for at least one night (excluding after nights out or due to travel difficulties) and just over 9% did so for over a month (3. Source: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42427398). The findings also highlighted that young men are more likely to have sofa surfed than young women with 48% of the 484 men questioned saying they had, compared with 34% of 519 women.

Sofa-surfing, the umbrella term encompassing a number of different living arrangements, is a risky option that many of the City’s young homeless resort to. The perils of sofa-surfing are wide ranging and include exposure to predation, harmful influences such as drugs and alcohol, staying with near or unknown strangers, fatigue due to poor and irregular sleep patterns, weight loss, anxiety, possible abuse, depression, exploitation and grooming.

Through its team of dedicated Volunteer Hosts – who offer their spare room on a night-by-night basis – Sussex Nightstop is providing the young homeless people of Brighton and Hove a safe and secure space from which to work on rectifying their housing issues, helping to remove the worrisome risk of slipping into long-term homelessness or turning to the streets and hazardous rough sleeping.

Nightstop’s Executive Director, Alison Marino said: “The most common reasons for young people resorting to staying at friends and sofa-surfing include parents being unable or unwilling to provide housing, extended family members being unable to help or splitting up

with a partner, alongside other contributing factors such as tenancies ending, domestic abuse, rent arrears and leaving care.

“To address this important issue, this year we are focused on our summer ‘Sleep Safe’ campaign which aims to raise £10,000 towards helping the young, vulnerable people of Brighton and Hove. Its underlying message is to highlight and address the veiled problem of youth homelessness and how, through early intervention, those at risk can be supported and steered to a brighter, safer future – breaking the cycle of homelessness. But this campaign is just the tip of the iceberg; we need Brighton and Hove residents, the City’s commercial organisations and the Sussex community as a whole to get behind us to help us achieve our goal of having a safe bed available to those in need every night of the week.”

The number of those sleeping rough in Brighton is a constantly changing population and, unfortunately, statistics show that people sleeping rough die younger, are more likely to get ill and are more defenceless and exposed, so more susceptible to violence. Rough sleepers are defined for the purpose of the statistics as people sleeping, or bedded down, in the open air, such as on the streets, on the beach, under the Pier, in doorways, parks or bus shelters; or in other places not fit for habitation such as sheds and car parks.

Alison continued: “The ‘Hidden Homeless’ fall under the category of ‘Provisionally Accommodated’ as they are seen as people who live temporarily with others, but without any guarantee of continued residency or any immediate prospects for getting permanent housing.

For example, a young person could be staying in temporary accommodation, but they are not rough sleeping as they have a proper roof over their head at night. Therefore, it is possible to be homeless, but not be rough sleeping.

“When a young person stays with one of our Volunteer Hosts, they can expect their own private bedroom, an evening meal and breakfast, the opportunity to wash dirty laundry, have a bath or shower and we cover the cost of bus tickets to and from the Host’s home where needed. A Befriender can also take the young person to the Host’s home, so any feelings of anxiety or nervousness at meeting new people are removed, they don’t have to do it alone, we’ll be right there with them.”

Sussex Nightstop’s work is already making headway and seeing some concrete results. The Team has matched 3,000 bed nights to 345 young people, trained and supported over 70 households and 90% of the young people who have used the Sussex Nightstop services have gone on to secure safer, more suitable housing.

Cllr John Allcock said in support of the Sussex Nightstop campaign: “We’re experiencing a national housing crisis and the impact is significant here in Brighton & Hove. We welcome Sussex Nightstop’s campaign highlighting the dangers encountered by those who are rough sleeping, specifically regarding youth homelessness, and to raise awareness of the help available for under 26-year olds facing homelessness across the city.

As a council, we’re working together with a wide range of local organisations to make a positive difference to people in need. The council is committed to work with partners to tackle the housing shortage which is the main cause of homelessness and work towards eliminating the need for rough sleeping.”

If you’d like to support Sussex Nightstop’s work, you can do this by donating to the summer ‘Sleep Safe’ campaign at: https://localgiving.org/charity/sussexnightstop/, by becoming a Volunteer Host, fundraising for the Team or by simply spreading the word about youth homelessness. For more information, please visit www.sussexnightstop.org.uk



Local homeless charity Sussex Nightstop are marking their 10-year anniversary by launching their ‘Sleep Safe’ campaign. The campaign will raise awareness of the many young people in Sussex at risk of homelessness, often as young as 16 years old.

With rates of homelessness on the increase, young people are particularly vulnerable to becoming homeless, especially when family breakdown is involved.

Research points to as many as one in five young people finding themselves in the unpredictable and risky situation of sofa-surfing and of these, roughly half will have sofa-surfed for more than a month.

Government data for 2017 illustrates Brighton had the second highest level of recorded rough sleepers in the country after Westminster. At 178 individuals, this represents a 24% increase on the previous year. Six percent of these people were under 26 years old.

Sleeping rough and other temporary living arrangements have a considerable and chronic negative effect. More than half of young people involved in 2017 research by homelessness charity De Paul UK said that not having a stable place to live had damaged their mental or emotional health, and the majority said that their physical wellbeing had suffered. Nearly half said that temporary living had had a negative impact on their relationships and more than four in 10 said it had damaged their education or their ability to find or keep work.

However, Sussex Nightstop provides a safety net for these young people, preventing them from becoming homeless. The charity matches vulnerable young people (aged 16-25) with volunteer hosts who put them up in their spare room, on a night-by-night basis. This gives the young person a safe space to resolve their housing problems, so they don’t risk spiralling into long-term homelessness or the dangers of rough sleeping.

The ‘Sleep Safe’ campaign is urging people to help alleviate this often-hidden problem of youth homelessness by supporting Sussex Nightstop’s work. The ‘Sleep Safe’ campaign will also raise £10,000 towards developing and delivering our services to young people including the recruitment and training of more volunteer hosts.

Sussex Nightstop are calling on commercial organisations and the Sussex community to get behind their fundraising campaign and help them in their ambition to have a safe bed available on every night of the week.

The work Sussex Nightstop does with vulnerable young people has already had very tangible results during their 10 years of operation:

• Since the project began, they have received 750 referrals of young people and matched 3000 bed nights to 345 young people.

• 45% of young people accessing Nightstop are in work or learning.

• 90% of young people using the Sussex Nightstop service go on to secure safer, more suitable housing.

Sussex Nightstop Executive Director Alison Marino said: “I am delighted to be celebrating our 10 year anniversary. The achievements accomplished through the efforts of our local volunteers and the Sussex Nightstop team cannot be underestimated.

“However, there is more work for us to do. We see first-hand the increasing and deepening challenges that young people face with regard to securing a safe and stable place to live. We need to continue to be there for them. We have tasked ourselves in providing a service that supports a range of different needs and we want to develop our volunteer host pool, both in numbers and skills. All of this will enable us to reach more people and move towards our goal of offering a safe bed night every night.

“The Sleep Safe campaign– the messages it spreads and the funds it raises – will help us towards our goal. People have real concern for this issue and on behalf of Sussex Nightstop I offer encouragement and thanks for supporting our campaign.”

A young person who has used Sussex Nightstop’s service said: “Thanks to you guys I achieved the impossible, I’m now living in Central Brighton. You gave me the strength to fight. Thank you so much for giving me a unique look into your family and home.”

One of Sussex Nightstop’s volunteer hosts, Liz, said: “Most of us are concerned about the growing plight of young people who cannot rely on having somewhere to sleep every night. Being able to offer them a warm welcome, a hot meal, and a bed so that they feel safe is such a rewarding yet easy thing to do. As hosts we’ve seen ourselves the positive difference Sussex Nightstop makes to the young people who have stayed with us. We hope the Sleep Safe campaign will help Nightstop to continue to be there for young people when they need it most.”

People who want to support Sussex Nightstop’s work can do this by donating to the ‘Sleep Safe’ campaign, by becoming a volunteer host, fundraising for us or by simply spreading the word about youth homelessness.

If you think you can help Sussex Nightstop raise £10,000 in their tenth-year visit: www.sussexnightstop.org.uk