How BHT and our partners saved the lives of rough sleepers over the winter months

What wonderful weather we are enjoying at the moment.  Even my white legs have made an appearance.  The forecast is for another hot, sunny Bank Holiday weekend which means, inevitably, that it will rain!

It is hard to think back to the freezing cold of the winter months but here are a few statistics I would like to share with you regarding the Severe Weather Shelter which BHT operates when there is a risk to life from the weather.

The Severe Weather Shelter opened on 43 occasions over the winter, provided shelter for 244 different men and women who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets that night.  A total of 1,401 nights accommodation were provided.  33 members of staff volunteered to work on these nights, in addition to their normal day jobs.

BHT is able to run this shelter on behalf of Brighton and Hove City Council because we have First Base Day Centre that we can use for the shelter, and because BHT and several other partner organisations have the skilled, trained and dedicated staff who are willing to drop everything to run the shelter.  I am extremely grateful to all these colleagues for their selfless dedication.

So while we enjoy the wonderful weather, please spare a moment to think about how BHT is able to run First Base.  It takes fundraising activities throughout the year, our biggest being the Greater Brighton Cycle Challenge which is now less than six weeks away.

Please sign up to cycle or to help on the day.  You can find out more information here.

And if you want to support First Base and make me very happy, you can sponsor me as I am planning to cycle 100 km as part of the challenge.  Last year I raised just over £1,000, it would be wonderful to top that.  Many thanks.


Borrow or hire a bike to join the Greater Brighton Cycle Challenge

Cycle Brighton is supporting the Greater Brighton Cycle Challenge on 1st July 2018 by providing bikes that can be borrowed on the day (together with helmets) for those signed up for the Around the World Cycle Challenge at the Preston Park Velodrome. This means that you can take part in this challenge even if you don’t own a bike.

Cycle Brighton is also donating 20% of bike hire fees to BHT for anyone who wishes to participate in the Living Coast rides (30 miles or 58 miles) for more experienced cyclists through the world-class environment of the South Downs, recognised by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Region.

Cycle Brighton is a bike hire and tour company offering a range of packages and activities.  For bike hire and more information about Cycle Brighton, please follow this link.

Click here for more information about the Greater Brighton Cycle Challenge.

Please support those businesses who support Brighton Housing Trust.

Remembering my great uncle Tom who died 100 years ago today

My grandfather, Hugh Winter, was in the Machine Gun Corps during the First World War.  The Corps was known as the Suicide Club because of its particularly high mortality rate.  170,500 officers and men served in the Corps, with 62,049 becoming casualties, including 12,498 killed.

Hugh had a younger brother, Tom, born 1888, who became a merchant seaman.  During the First World War, Tom served on the merchant vessel, the SS Kutsang.

On 14th April 1918, Tom wrote a letter to Hugh.  The actual letter is one of my most precious possessions.

It is a very affectionate letter, from one brother to another, talking about “how much we really love each other” and “I am longing to see you again and have some pleasant times”.

In the letter Tom questioned why Hugh was in the trenches, saying that it should rather be him. 

Tom ends the letter:

I am going to close now, hoping you are safe and may God look after you and bring you safe home to us all again for I know we all love you very much. Well good bye and may God Bless you Hugh and may God spare you. From your loving and ever affectionate Brother, Tom”.

Fifteen days later, in the early hours of 29th April 1918, exactly 100 years ago today, Tom’s ship was torpedoed and he drowned. Hugh survived the war.  My father was born in 1924.  He was named Tom.

The last page of the letter sent from Tom Winter to Hugh Winter, dated 15th April 1918

The memorial for those lost on the SS Kutsang. (If anyone knows the location of this memorial, please could they let me know)


My response to Piers Morgan about why women don’t rule in the UK

Yesterday, on International Women’s Day, Piers Morgan, posted on Twitter a “reminder that in Britain, women rule…
Monarch: female
Prime Minister: female
Home Secretary: female
Scotland 1st Minister: female
Head of London fire service: female
Head of Met Police: female”

But also on Twitter, I reminded Piers Morgan that women are more likely to live in poverty, earn two thirds what men earn, have been disproportionately negatively impacted by welfare reform, at least two women a week in the UK are killed by their current or ex-partner, are subject to sexist hate speak & sexual harassment, 1 in 4 are subjected to domestic violence, etc. etc. etc.

Rough sleeping is fast becoming the shame of Eastbourne

The worsening situation for rough sleepers in Eastbourne has become far more obvious in recent times.

In February, the Eastbourne Herald reported that the number of rough sleepers has quadrupled in the past two years.  It is not due to the proximity to Brighton, as claimed by a spokesperson from Eastbourne Borough Council.  Rather it is due to the absence of emergency accommodation in the town.

In the freezing weather an emergency shelter was opened to preserve life.  While this is to be welcomed, it is the bare minimum.  An affluent town like Eastbourne should make sure that there is no reason for anyone to sleep on the streets.  It is not good for the reputation of the town and it is certainly not good for those sleeping on the streets.



A national spotlight was shone on Eastbourne recently when BBC News ran an item about the fear that homeless people have about sleeping rough.

Government figures show that Eastbourne now has the ninth highest rate of rough sleeping in the country.

Rough sleeping is fast becoming the shame of Eastbourne.

Will GDPR reduce the amount of spam emails I receive?

I am finding that I am getting more sales email than ever.  I unsubscribe to all, sometime between three and five each day.  when asked why, I usually say it is because I never signed up to receive the mailing.

With the arrival of GDPR, can someone assure me that I won’t continue to receive unsolicited sales emails like these. And if I do, what recourse will I have?

At BHT we are doing a lot to prepare ourselves for GDPR, including asking all people who subscribe to our mailings to reaffirm their consent to receive them from us.  We will do what we are expected to do but I fear that others will carry on regardless with no comeback or sanctions.

Rough sleeping numbers up again. Where should blame lie?

Brighton Argus (26/01/18)

The government has released the latest rough sleeper figures for England. In Brighton and Hove, as we knew, the number of people sleeping on our streets is up from 144 to 178. It means that the city, for the second year running, has the highest level of rough sleeping outside London. Here is the statement I put out to the media, and covered in today’s (26th January 2018) Brighton Argus.

These latest figures do not come as a surprise other than that they are not much worse.

This increase is due to the increasing unaffordability of private rented accommodation, the failure to build new social housing, and welfare reform.

Fortunate in Brighton and Hove we have a council that is aware of the scale of problem that works well with a number of excellent charities that prevent homelessness and help people to move off the streets.

Without these charities the situation would be much, much worse.

But the situation in Brighton and Hove is exacerbated by the inward flow of wealthier people to the city. This has an inflationary impact on house prices as does government policy such as Help to Buy and, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, so too will the cut in stamp duty for first time buyers.

Some other areas in East Sussex are in denial about the scale of the rough sleeping crisis in spite of the growing evidence that is literally on their doorsteps.

The situation will do nothing but get worse and will only get better when central government intervenes to increase the supply of truly affordable housing for rent and reverses those policies that are resulting in homelessness and rough sleeping.