Increase in homeless needs

brighton homeless service

The St John Ambulance Homeless Service team in Brighton have reported an increase in the number of people needing their help in the area, which they believe could be linked to the global recession.

The team of volunteers hold drop in sessions each week at St Anne’s Day Centre, St Patricks Night Shelter and on Brighton Seafront for homeless and vulnerably housed people to receive first aid treatment, podiatry care and general health advice and have noticed an increased demand for the services they provide since the credit crunch has caused many people to lose their jobs and homes.

In the first quarter of 2008 the team of 40 volunteers including 14 nurses and two podiatrists treated 212 cases, however during the same period of 2009 this has risen to 358 cases possibly brought about by the extreme weather in February and the recession.

We are finding that more of the people we see need help and advice from us because they have lost their jobs and homes through the recession

Lesley Heasman
St John Ambulance Birghton Homeless Service Coordinator

Coordinator of the service Lesley Heasman says, ‘We are finding that more of the people we see need help and advice from us because they have lost their jobs and homes through the recession. Many people think that it can never happen to them and people lose their homes because of lifestyle problems such as drugs and alcohol. However this is not always the case. The cost of running a home has increased dramatically in the last year or so and for many people it is impossible to find the extra money, so they may be forced to leave their homes and either sleep on the streets, squat, or stay on other people’s floors and sofas.

'We support these people however we can by sign posting them to other agencies and taking care of any immediate health problems. This is our priority.’

St John Ambulance is a national charity and receives no funding from the government or NHS and therefore relies heavily on donations. Lesley continues, ‘As a charity we are also feeling the strain of the economic crisis and with the increased demand for our services there comes increased costs. We always welcome any donations or fundraising ideas and would love to hear from anyone who would like to help.’homeless health unit

The Brighton Homeless Service was set up by St John Ambulance in 1998 in response to the limited access to primary health care services for homeless and vulnerably housed people and has been providing outreach clinics since 2000.

For more information on the service call 01273 371 539.