Brighton and Hove City Council have released the Damming Independent report around the support vulnerable homeless residents have (or do not have) in Kendal Court. Kendal Court is privately run emergency accommodation building located in Newhaven, some 10 miles away from Brighton and Hove.
There has been no attempt to identify urgent changes required to protocols and procedures and no information on comparisons between the demographics of those who died and the wider population or those who are homeless in order to assess the seriousness of the situation.
The report should be referred back with professionals requested to provide guidelines for the production of a comprehensive and robust report
“We do not want to jump to conclusions but make sure there is a thorough and careful investigation.”David Gibson Green Spokesperson Housing
The Survey was conducted by Healthwatch and called for by campaigners, charities and the cities councillors, in an unprecedented move against the local authority.
The History and Background: Five deaths in two months in Kendal Court in Newhaven
Back in August 2018 the Argus first reported on the five deaths recorded in two months after being tipped off by a resident placed by Brighton and Hove City Council.
Local campaigners and community workers have raised concerns around the lack of support provided to residents placed outside the city. These calls are often rebutted.
Green councillor David Gibson called for a probe into seven deaths, he proposed a motion and said: “It appears people are more likely to die at Kendal Lodge than sleeping rough on the streets.
There are 54 bedsit rooms. There is a pub next door called the Grenadier, although residents include some who are battling alcohol addiction.
A two hour return journey to Brighton on the number 14 bus which runs every 30 minutes: the daily cost for a network saver is £7 via a mobile. £4.90 if you have a smartphone.
At a recent Housing Committee a member of the public asked the following question on the after a sister found her brother dead on the floor in August 2018.
Transparency and Accountability
The report requires that the Housing Coalition cover the issues in a series of articles to ensure comprehensive coverage of the issues documented.
- 13 rooms became vacant overnight? In a November Committee it was documented there were 13 residents living in Kendal Court with needs for Supported Accommodation.
The Healthwatch Survey notes:
At the start of phase one of the review, 4th October 2018, the status of the 50 flats leased by BHCC was:Author: East Sussex Community Voice Date: 14th December, 2018
1 vacant <———– [Just one vacancy]
However, the occupancy rate changed significantly over the survey timescale as residents moved in and out of the flats.
At the start of phase two of the review, 3rd December 2018, the status of the 50 flats was:
14 vacant <———-[Here is the missing thirteen]
Over the whole survey period, the median occupancy rate was 40 flats. The occupancy rate at the end of the survey period, 12th December 2018, was also 40 flats.
- Report admits Caretaker is not trained although clearly warm and well liked, this does raise alarm bells instantly, especially when you consider this quote from the report above.
‘I don’t feel safe at night or weekends when there is no caretaker here’Survey Respondant
Four residents and the caretaker reported violent incidents and arguments involving residents, including an altercation at the pub nearby where the Landlord refuses to have KC residents.East Sussex Community Voice
- Vulnerable residents left without power during out of office hours, residents also reported not being able to purchase electricity tokens.
‘The way you have to pay for electricity is inhumane and degrading. There is no facility to top up if you run out when the caretaker is not here; most people here don’tprioritise checking they have enough electric! They don’t check the electric meter reading to see when they are about to run out.’Survey Respondant
Where is the Equality Impact Assessment?
We are shocked to see lack of equality impact assessment conducted on the report to the housing and new homes committee. The Recommendation to simply not the report, is both an insult and injustice against those who have sadly died.
It is reported that a transgender resident, who is undergoing gender reassignment, was having difficulties understanding where there services are in Brighton and Hove, yet they have been placed in Newhaven.
Based on the rules, we are concerned this resident has slipped through the net.
We urge the council to conduct an Equality Impact Assessment immediately on the report and findings.
How This Ties Into Our Homeless Bill of Rights
We’ll continue to campaign for the Homeless Bill of Rights to be adopted by the City Council and by other public authorities in the city, including the NHS and the police.
1. The Right to Housing
The most important right a homeless person has is to exit homelessness. Services supporting access to appropriate housing must be accessible to all homeless people. In partnership with other competent public authorities, the Council shall work to ensure that there are sufficient routes into housing to meet need. – [We note the 13 documented with needs for Supported Accommodation were moved! Where?]
4. The Right to Equal Treatment
The Council is committed to ensuring that their staff and services uphold the right to equal treatment for all, without discriminating against the homeless.
6. The Right to Sanitary Facilities
The Council commits to providing access for all homeless people to basic sanitary facilities – running water (drinking fountains), showers and toilets sufficient to allow for the level of hygiene appropriate to maintaining human dignity. – [This Includes being able to wash your laundry.]
7. The Right to Emergency Services
The right to emergency services – social services, health services, the police and the fire service – on equal terms with any other member of the public, without being discriminated against because of their housing situation or their physical appearance. – [Including Dentists!]
13. The Right to Life
The right to life requires public authorities to take measures to preserve life. When people who are homeless (including people in emergency accommodation) die, the Council is committed to ensuring that their deaths are recorded as such, and that in each case there is a reasonably public investigation in order to understand the causes of death and what might have prevented it. – [Those people who have died, were failed!]
Get In Touch
Thank you for reading the first in the series of our reports into this report. As always you’re welcome to Get in Touch with the Brighton and Hove Housing Coalition with any question you may have.
Alternatively you can contact the ETHRAG (Emergency and Temporary Housing Residents Action Group) should you need and further assistance, advocacy or advice around your situation.