Families, children: join the challenge to cycle around the world in just 12 hours!

On July 1st, the O’Connell family in Brighton are taking part in the Greater Brighton Cycle Challenge at the Preston Park velodrome to raise funds for Brighton Housing Trust’s work at First Base Day Centre supporting homeless people. They are appealing for more families to sign up.

Daniel – who works for BHT – and son Jacob O’Connell (aged 6) will be trying to clock up the miles with laps around the velodrome. The aim of the “Around the World Challenge” is to collectively cycle the circumference of the Earth (40,075km) in a day. This is 69,215 laps!

Jacob O’Connell

Last year Jacob managed 8 laps. He said:

“It was fun last time and I want to beat daddy now I’m bigger and I’ve got a new bike from Cranks. I want to do 20 laps this time.”

Daniel said: “Every day First Base staff and volunteers make an inspiring difference to people who have many different needs. We want to help raise awareness of First Base who offer a range of services to support people who are sleeping rough or insecurely housed in the city, to get off the streets, start realising their aspirations through work, learning and leisure and find a place they can call home.

“It doesn’t matter how little you can do, children can cycle around the oldest cycle track in the country for only £5 and will all receive a medal, have run and raise vital funds for a great service in the Brighton.”

Nicky O’Connell is taking the Living Coast Classic Ride of 58 miles. Riders can choose the 30 mile Devils Dyke Loop.  (Map graphics outlining the routes are available)

Nicky, Jacob and Daniel O’Connell

Nicky, who teaches in Sussex, added: “Cycling is such a great activity for children and adults. The emotional, social and physical development of young children has a direct effect on their overall development and on the adult they will become.  Time spent playing outside  is down 50% in one generation and we know there’s a need to get kids active outdoors and this is a great opportunity to do that whilst helping such a good cause.”

This all day family-friendly event provides options for both less confident and more experienced cyclists. Families with youngsters can ride laps around Preston Park Velodrome between 10am and 12 noon, and again between 2pm and 4pm. Entertainment will take place throughout the day, and designated slots will be run for cycle clubs.

Cyclists can raise funds for BHT orother charities of their choosing.

For more information and to register for one of the challenges, visit the cycle challenge website.


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)


BHT is joining with the Choir with No Name to launch a new choir in Brighton and Hove

I am so thrilled that this morning Brighton Housing Trust and The Choir with No Name launched a new choir for homeless people in Brighton and Hove.

The launch took place on the British Airways i360, with sixty invited guests belting out Primal Scream’s ‘Moving on Up’ as they ascended.

Sixty people attended the launch including the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field, accompanied by Mrs. Margaret Field, Deputy Lieutenant Juliet Smith JP, Brighton and Hove City Councillors, and clients and staff from Brighton Housing Trust and from the Choir with No Name.

You can watch a video from the launch here.

The Choir with No Name has for the past ten years been running choirs for people who have experienced homelessness. They currently run choirs in London, Liverpool and Birmingham. All their choirs rehearse weekly followed by a hot meal together, performing regularly at a wide variety of venues throughout the year.

The Brighton choir will offer some of the most marginalised members of the community the opportunity to make friends, grow in confidence and sing away their worries in a safe and non-judgmental environment, empowering them to flourish as individuals and move away from homelessness long term.

Marie Benton, the founder and Chief Executive of The Choir with No Name said at the launch: “We’re delighted to be coming to Brighton and also delighted to be working with Brighton Housing Trust.  As well as the choir manager and choir director roles we’ll be looking for volunteers to help with the choir and also local businesses who want to help out and get involved!”

The partnership will see Brighton Housing Trust employ a part-time Choir Manager to run the day to day management of choir rehearsals, performances and volunteers. This role will also provide choir members with direct personal support, signposting and access to services provided by Brighton Housing Trust and other organisations.

The Choir with No Name will continue to do what they do best – the music. They will be looking to employ a talented freelance choir director who will lead the choir at rehearsals, gigs and outreach singing workshops, ensuring members reach their full musical potential.

This is such an exciting opportunity for marginalised people, for Brighton and Hove, and for Brighton Housing Trust.  We are so pleased to be working with The Choir with No Name whose work I have admired for many years.  Most importantly, this gives clients of BHT and other organisations the opportunity to get together, sing and provide each other with support.

Many thanks to the wonderful people at the British Airways i360 who donated the flight for this launch and for helping to make this event such a success.

At least 78 homeless people died on the streets or temporary accommodation in 2017

Nationally, at least 78 homeless people died on the streets or in temporary accommodation last year, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

There have been over 300 deaths since 2013.  40 deaths have already been recorded in the first part of 2018.

Rough sleeping has more than doubled over the last five years.

A colleague at BHT asked me: “Just how is this allowed to happen? Just why isn’t there a massive outcry over this? Just when is there ever going to be an end to people dying on the streets?”

I couldn’t answer her.

Sun Cream and Sun Hat Appeal for Rough Sleepers

We are making our annual appeal for sun cream and sun hats to protect homeless people who are often exposed to extreme heats in spring and summer.

First Base Day Centre helps homeless men and women in Brighton and Hove by providing food, showers, clean and dry clothes, and support to get off the streets.

My colleague, Deirdre O’ Halloran, Deputy Manager of First Base, said:  “Your support in donating sun cream and sun hats will help us to encourage rough sleepers to protect themselves from sunburn and associated illnesses during warm spells.”

Rough sleepers are far more likely to get skin cancer than the rest of the population because of their extended exposure to harmful rays.

You can either purchase sun cream or sun hats from our Amazon Wish List on the link below, or drop items off to First Base itself at St. Stephen’s Hall, Montpelier Place, Brighton, BN1 3BF or our head office at 144 London Road, Brighton, BN1 4PH.

House price increases are a disaster for first time buyers and those struggling with rents in the private sector

(An article in the Brighton Argus on 10th April 2018 reported positively about house price increases in Brighton and Hove.  I see the opposite.  Here is the text of a letter I sent to the Argus, published on 11th April 2018).

The language used regarding house prices is odd. In your article ‘Our housing boom’ ( 10 April 2018) the estate agent, Savills, said that “there is potential for yet more growth“ in house prices.

I would have said that  “there is the serious risk of yet more growth in prices“. The average sale price for a two bedroom flat or three bedroom house on the outskirts of the city is now touching £400,000, a little short of property prices in London.

Your headline suggests that increasing prices is a good thing.  It might be good for those who see housing as an investment opportunity but it is a disaster for first time buyers and for those struggling with rents. Housing should not be seen as an investment opportunity but rather the place where people live.

The ever increasing price of properties in Brighton and Hove means that more and more people will struggle to get on the housing ladder, rents in the private sector will increase, and homelessness will be exacerbated.