Open Letter to the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party

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Open Letter to the Labour Party NEC

Labour Party members: please add your full name and CLP in the form at the end of this post to have your signature added to the letter. The list will be updated daily.

Dear members of the NEC,

As members of the Labour Party, we, the undersigned, call on the party’s National Executive Committee to resist calls to adopt all eleven examples accompanying the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism into the party’s code of conduct on antisemitism.

The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party and as such must stand up for justice and equality and speak up against oppression. We are gravely concerned that two of the currently omitted examples in particular will be used to silence free speech on Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights and freedom.

The IHRA states that instances of antisemitism may include “Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not…

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Brighton & Hove Homelessness: The Shame Of Europe

Ive been speaking to some non UK nationals about homelessness in Brighton and Hove.

Last year I met a student from Holland who was staying in Brighton and Hove for the winter to study, he was studying homelessness and rough sleepers. He spent so much time with rough sleepers observing and learning. He went back to Holland with his results which painted a realistic gloomy view of the homelessness issues in Brighton and Hove.

We know that we have 144 official rough sleepers but what about the extended community within the homeless sub-culture? these are people living in hostels, people who are now homed and left without support and therapy to fully recover.

We know that we have a very visible issue on the streets of Brighton right now, as I am writing this blog I am tucked up in bed with a horrid chest infection, warm under my duvet and only a few feet away from the kettle to make some honey and lemon hot water.

I was speaking to a rough sleeper last night, he is 19 years old. He also has a chest infection, but does not have to comforts we are privileged to have today.

He will be walking the streets all day to get warm.

He will be begging or doing criminal activities to survive.

He is slowly dying inside and at risk of assault or sexual abuse. How can this be right?

The homeless are five times more lively to attend A&E than the average Brighton and Hove resident, most die in their forties.

Check out this post worried about another young lad.

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Non UK Citizens in Shock Horror at Brighton and Hove Homelessness Issue

So back to this guy, who is quite cute, he has recently arrived from Spain with an open mind as to what he will find in the the city and has taken up full time work in a restaurant working 40 hours a week. He works in the city centre and can see first hand the homelessness crisis bringing doom and gloom to the streets of Brighton.

He said “In my whole life I’ve never seen this, people sleeping on the streets, we do not have this where I am from”.

Which is something I am hearing more and more often, many of the volunteers we see helping out with grassroots groups are people from other countries in Europe, this number is increasing which is great.

He then said “There no help by the government?”

I laughed out loud and coughed everywhere with this stinking cold, as if! Since the Conservatives came into power rough sleeping has doubled.

These people who come to live in the UK from Europe, they come to learn English, they work hard, long hours and see the carnage on the streets as totally unbelievable and unnessessary.  Why? because they don’t have this, yet they have much higher unemployment levels than the UK.

It doesn’t make sense, that is until you factor in the freeze in wages, the increase in living costs and most importantly the high rents and lack of new council housing being build. We have different societies, they have cheaper food, cheaper rent and a system in Spain which helps those who have fallen to hard times.

How do we clean up the streets?

Id certainly recommend people check out the Sussex Partnership, headed up by Jim Deans and a community or volunteers those of you from across Europe or local who want to help tackle the homelessness crisis should start with him.

The Sussex Partnership feed the most homeless in the city, they can be found at the clock tower in Churchill square every Sunday, to get involved and help feed and get to know the real people behind the stigma, drop by! Check out a recent Argus article about the work done by the Sussex Partnership here.

We also have OPSafe – who do some wonderful things in the city including the Rucksack Project which provides the homeless with life saving footwear and suitable clothing to help rough sleepers warm and dry. Sometimes the people who make up the rucksacks leave little messages of inspiration for the homeless or give them creative items to keep their minds active. One of the organisers said:

“its the little things that make a real difference, the human touch”.


Their are many initiatives in Brighton and Hove designed to help the homeless, I would recommend looking for those organisations and groups who have volunteers with lived experience of homelessness. Do this as a start before, even considering some of the larger charities who get huge amounts of funding.

Homeless people have their own culture, a sub-culture within our society which is marginalised. Rough sleepers are often abused or ridiculed by those in our society who clearly demonstrate that they have no sense of compassion, but for so many people within in minority culture being left behind to die.

As recently reported the Brighton Centre to be used as homeless night shelter this winter 30 new places will make a very small difference, but the idea come from the local community originally. Brighton and Hove News reported this:

“The places at the shelter will be allocated from referrals by outreach workers from St Mungo’s and BHT (Brighton Housing Trust). The outreach workers will also offer support to those staying at the shelter, linking them to services and sources of support across Brighton and Hove.”

Talk about taking over from the little people, the establishment keeping their funding options closed to a small number of charities, who by the way have an invite only selection process if you want to get involved in their Galvanise Project. A tick box exercise designed to keep the tills ringing.

No worries the grassroots community are staying away from this project and setting up there own emergency pop up shelter, which will help 60 people sleeping with. They have no help from the council, they don’t get one of the empty buildings or funding from the council, its being entirely funded and crowdsourced by locals for all homeless.

They want to save lives, not use those lives!

[emailpetition id=”2″]

You Cant Take Whitehawk Out Of The Boy

Growing up in Whitehawk can be tough, behind closed doors all manner of things goes on in households. With some better of than others, you do get the feeling that the community spirit in the area has changed somewhat.

Children still don’t have much to do, with the threat of closure for the Whitehawk INN which is in desperate need of finance. The closure of drug counselling services in the area and loads of people my age still living at home I do wonder when things will change.

I often hear about people my age dying, mostly men or see on Facebook that someone I went to school with is serving time in HMP Lewes Prison. These are just a few issues I can think of straight away which need focus. 

Free School meals

The number of Children receiving free meals in East Brighton is 33%, in comparison Withdean only has 5%.

Two of our local areas are in the two per cent most income-deprived areas in England. Both are in the East Brighton ward. One is located in the area centred on Whitehawk Crescent and the southern end of Manor Hill and the other forms part of the northern tip of Whitehawk.

I remember when I was growing up in Whitehawk, I used to get free school meals because it was almost always the most wholesome meal I would get, this wasn’t neglect this was poverty.With foodbank usage rising in Whitehawk by 60%, its important that we remember and help the most vulnerable.

Whitehawk: Domestic Violence

Whitehawk is one of Brighton and Hove’s hotspots for Domestic Violence. According to police data, nearly four out of five victims are female, with female victims most commonly in the 20-29 age group. Male victims are on average slightly older.

As someone who grew up in an unstable household and who has personally survived abuse from a previous parter, its evident there is not a focus to tackle this issue and I would start with education first. Its children who suffer the most from an unstable home!

But housing options for those fleeing are little and far between, I’ve seen mothers with young children who were made homeless due to domestic violence shoved in unsupported emergency accommodation. I’ve been real violence and fear, women ex violent partners get into buildings which have no support. Victims need the right support and friends and family play a vital role, as does non molestation orders.

violence-and-sexual-offence-kemptown-brighton

Whitehawk: Education and Qualification

In East Brighton according to the last census some 26% or nearly 3000 people in the area reported they received no qualifications. 40% have level 1 which is entry level education standards.

We need better school provisions and a high school for residents in more deprived areas like Whitehawk, 40% is totally unacceptable. I went to Stanley Season High School which was one of the worst performing schools in the country. It was full of Tory teachers who didn’t care and was being run into the ground. Now there is no local high school provision.

Crime

Most crime is associated with drug and alcohol abuse, from low level disagreements to murder I’ve seen it all on the Whitehawk estate. When you come into Kemptown where you have a lot of bedsits is issues with dealing and drug abuse, as we saw last year with various police chases, one resulting in death.

Not to mention rape, sexual assaults and child abuse, these are all taboo subjects which rarely get mentioned, I found out today that Rise UK off a grant scheme for community activists wanting to tackle domestic violence.

We need communities to take control and we know prison is not the answer for many offences relating to drugs, but we must take a hard line again theft and violence, we cannot have a city with so much anger and rage.

Anti-Social Behaviour Kemptown

Pledge your support for Daniel Harris

I want to become the next socialist working class councillor to tackle these issues above any many more, but I will need the support of locals in Whitehawk and East Brighton to achieve this. We are a young area and we need young representation from people who are born and raised in the area.

This is why I am standing to change things and open up the doors for other locals to get more involved, please support and pledge your support for me to represent you in 2018 as the local Labour Party candidate.

Thanks Daniel

[emailpetition id=”2″]

Dont Moan Take Action

Speaking to my sister today got me thinking and I actually said this to her

Stop moaning about your housing situation and take action, do something about it?

Granted she is a mother of two girls under the age of 2. My sister who was up until 2014 was living in a flat in Brighton and Hove, sadly a knock came to the door one day and it was a council officer, my sister answered and they said this is a council property you are illegally subletting.

For months my sister was getting letters for the landlord and were left unopened as the landlord move away to live with a partner, never did my sister think she was actually sub-letting a council property.

Anyway my sister assisted with the councils investigation to take action against the so called dodgy landlord, who not only has taken advantage of my sister, but also lied to the council and state and profited from council property.

To my sisters amazement she was then told she had to move out by Brighton and Hove city Council, leaving her homeless.

My sister ended up moving into a family members spare room and was on the council waiting list. She then after 10 years and no success found out she was pregnant, up until this point she was working.

The council placed her in private rented accommodation with a long term tenancy agreement, I think 10 years. She was in Band D, she as told me today she is spending £5 per day on electric, as her flat doesn’t have central heating. She told me its full of damp and on top of that her second baby girl arrived this year.

The council then remove her from the council housing waiting list, after evicting her from her previous place, through no thought of her own.

Ive learned that you need to take action

Its hard to know where to start with taking on the council or ensuring your rights are being met, I discovered this first hand. Being homeless myself had its challenges, but from day one I know I had to speak out and take action.

We have choices on where we go or how we go about it, but I soon discovered that I wasn’t alone in my crisis and struggle, I discovered that their were many like me living in a temporary and emergency accommodation nightmare.

The press in the city are kind to those who have been marginalised but they only publish a few stories, to get a real voice I set up this blog and started writing and evidencing the issues people and myself faced.

I believe this continued partnership will eventually lead to better prospects for locals in terms of secure and affordable accommodation. The Brighton and Hove Housing Coalition which launched their website this week, is an organisation bringing thousands in the city together, collaborating for all our futures.

In conclusion I’ve seen many people speak out and help to change the futures of others and themselves, they’ve been brave and often been persecuted for this bravery by the establishment. I’ve come to see that, we need to have a no fear attitude and follow through until we are happy with the outcome.

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When Will The Homelessness Establishment Wake Up

Andy Winter Needs A Reality Check

Following the recent report that a 21 year old rough sleeper in Brighton and Hove has sadly been found dead, the housing and homelessness establishment have responded. Andy Winter the Chief Exec at the Brighton Housing Trust wrote today:

We don’t need new initiatives, or new groups, or ways to make life a bit more bearable for those on the streets. We need to help them off the streets. Some worthy and well-motivated initiatives can hinder that process.

With 5 million a year being spend on homelessness services in the city and each year the number is rising, with now over 150 people sleeping rough in Brighton and Hove, I note this quote from Andy:

In reality, a lot is happening. We provide, for example, through First Base Day Centre, the basics for survival and basic dignity – hot drinks and meals, showers, toilet facilities, clean and dry clothes and critically, with our partner organisations, we help several hundred people off the streets and into housing.

I have to say why is Andy defending BHT? why is he not talking about the huge misuse of funds which are not delivering a service which saves lives? Why is Andy essentially using this horrid death to promote the activities of BHT?

The Young Rough Sleepers Mate Who Found Him

I have been informed by grassroots homelessness activists and front line volunteers that the young lads friend who found him dead at the weekend, actually spent the evening sleeping rough himself.

Imagine finding your friend dead, what affect would that have on you? I would be messed up, but then to have to sleep rough that night, this is not how we should be treating anyone in our society, especially young people.

What Can Be Done

Those groups Andy Winter is putting down are actually changing things, the Brighton and Hove Housing Coalition, which now has 30 organisations signed up is the largest in the city and Andy is starting to see that things are changing.

For example The Community Night shelter team are crowdfunding for a huge marque which will be erected this winter and set to put a roof over the heads of 60 rough sleepers. This can be achieved for a fraction of the money the establishment get, for just £20,000 we can provide sanctuary and warmth for up to 60 people at risk of death.

If you want to find out more information on the crowd funder check out the just giving page here.

Candlelit Vigil In Solidarity With The Fallen This Thursday

Come and pay your respects for those we have already this on the streets of Brighton and Hove this Thursday. The community will be meeting at Brighton Town Hall from 4pm, just before the Full Council Meeting, where elected councillors will be debating rough sleeping.

RSPV on the Facebook Event page here.