Brighton’s streets tell a story that’s all too familiar. People sleeping in tents, not out of choice, but because they’ve hit rock bottom. It’s easy for those in power, like Home Secretary Suella Braverman, to label tent-living as a ‘lifestyle choice’. But ask yourself, would anyone choose to live like that if they had any other option?
In a recent post on Twitter known as X, Braverman stated, “We cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice.”
This statement has not gone unchallenged. Local voices and political figures have been quick to respond, highlighting the complexities of homelessness that the Home Secretary’s comments fail to address.
Remember the tragedy in Manchester, where a life was lost in a tent? Or take Paige from our own city, a young mum fighting addiction and trauma, whose struggles were documented in the BBC Documentary Girls Living On The Streets, sadly her story ended in tragedy. These aren’t choices; they’re the results of a society that’s turned its back on its most vulnerable.
Bella Sankey, Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, countered the Home Secretary’s narrative, tweeting,“The last @UKLabour Government transformed homelessness in #Brighton. By 2010, rough sleepers were in single figures. We now have roughly 50 households presenting as homeless per week. Homelessness is not a lifestyle choice. It’s the Tory choice.”
It’s a hard truth that some folks prefer the streets to the chaos of hostels. They’re choosing the lesser of two evils, trying to stay clear of trouble. That’s not a lifestyle; that’s survival.
Now, we’re hearing plans to punish those who help, by stopping charities from giving out tents. It’s like we’re punishing kindness. We’re talking about a crackdown on the very support that keeps some of our city’s most vulnerable from freezing on cold nights.
But there’s hope on the horizon. Local heroes like Dr. Tim Worthley are pushing for something big – a Homeless Healthcare Hub. It’s a place where the homeless can get the medical care they need, all under one roof. It’s smart, it’s compassionate, and it’s what Brighton needs.
We’ve got something special here in Brighton – the Homeless Bill of Rights. It’s a promise that we look out for everyone, no matter their situation. And it’s high time we lived up to that promise.
So, here’s a shout-out to our council: Let’s get a report going on this Homeless Healthcare Hub idea. Let’s see if we can make it happen. Let’s be the city that doesn’t just talk a good game but plays one too.
We’re Brighton, and we’re better than this. Let’s show that we’re a city that cares, a city that acts, and a city that stands up for all its people. It’s time for change, and it’s time for action. Let’s make it happen.