Homeless on our streets

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Every large town in Britain has a homeless person. Each night of the year there are some 2,750 men, women and children sleeping rough on the pavements, park benches or in doorways, or wherever they can find shelter.  There are on average five to seven homeless people like this in Hastings alone.

Director Mike Cornish of  Seaview Project spoke last Tuesday March 3 to members of the British Legion and the RAF Association at the Rye Club about the charity’s work, running an open access and wellbeing centre in St Leonards. He spoke about the marginalised people living almost unseen in our midst, who are outside the scope of the social services and do not qualify for state assistance. If they find their way into the centre, they receive a hot meal for a £1, the opportunity to have a bath and primary healthcare attention. A dedicated housing team puts visitors in contact with sources of help and sometimes can physically accompany them to a housing association office if the visitor needs help due to distrust of authority and lack of self-esteem.

Up to 100 people a day come to the former Post Office sorting office in Hatherley Road, where 18 paid staff and 36 volunteers are on hand to give practical assistance, helping those “below the radar” to rebuild their lives. Success is measurable in terms of numbers of people who have found settled accommodation, or work experience opportunities or engagement in physical activity programmes. To support this, the Seaview Project charity has an annual budget of some £400,000 and relies upon service contracts with local authorities, grants from charitable organisations and individual donations. For those teamworkers and volunteers, many of whom are themselves current and former service-users, results are not just about numbers, but based upon the satisfaction of a necessary job well done.