We're Now a Registered Charity!

Lewes Open Door is proud and delighted to announce that it is now a Registered Charity. This is a key step in our five year strategy to further support homeless and vulnerable people in Lewes District. It will allow us access to more funding bodies and enter into legal contracts, as well as being able to claim gift aid on donations.

Coming as it does shortly before our launch of Lewes’ first ever night shelter, it establishes us as a credible third-sector organisation with demonstrable governance.

David Griffiths, chair of Lewes Open Door, said “Applying for charitable status has meant a lot of work for many of our team, to whom thanks are due. I would also like to thank Lee Shepherd at 3VA for his invaluable assistance. We are now positioned to make even more of a difference to some of the most vulnerable people in our community”

Claire Underwood
Celebration of Kindness

Over 70 people enjoyed the warm summer evening at Lewes Open Door’s Celebration of Kindness on Thursday June 27th.  The Right Reverend Richard Jackson, Bishop of Lewes, opened the event and spoke of the importance of the group’s work supporting homeless and vulnerable people in the town.


With music by local duo Edenwood, dancing from the Blackpowder Morris, food, and beer generously donated by Harvey’s, the event was an opportunity to find out about the proposed Winter Night Shelter and recruit volunteers to help with the project later this year.  

More than thirty people expressed interest in volunteering on the night and nearly £300 was donated.  There are also two essential roles still to fill so that the night shelter can run, the volunteer administrator and the supplies administrator. 

Lewes Open Door was set up in October 2017 by local residents. Since then, public support for the group’s work has increased, with donation targets being exceeded and over thirty volunteers helping out. The Night Shelter will provide a safe and warm space during Winter 2019/20, initially for up to five homeless people, in accommodation provided by local churches, with a simple evening meal and breakfast. 

Existing volunteers at Lewes Open Door have discovered that working with the charity can be a hugely positive and rewarding experience. One volunteer said, “I gave an old mobile of mine to one of the guests. He was so grateful, he even offered to give me money for it from his benefits. I felt humbled and of course did not accept.” Another admitted, “Before I volunteered, I was scared of talking to homeless people. But chatting with the guests has taught me so much and now I understand the difficulties they have.” 

To find out about the benefits of volunteering and how to make a real difference to others’ lives, please make initial contact by email to  lewesopendoor@gmail.com or visit https://www.lewesopendoor.org/

Claire Underwood
How can I help the homeless in Lewes?

1. Saying ‘hello’

To immediately help homeless people in Lewes, saying ‘hello’ is a start.

Small acts of kindness make a big difference in the grand economics of the day for anyone, especially someone who is potentially feeling more isolated than they ever have in their life. Simply recognising an individual as someone worth talking to, smiling at, or even sharing a short conversation reminds him or her that they are not alone.

2. Giving money

There are many concerns surrounding directly giving money to someone sleeping rough. Will they spend it on drugs or alcohol, or will they use it to find a bed for the night? We cover this topic in more detail, but generally an act of kindness such as this can make more of a difference than the money itself.

3. Let someone know

You can notify StreetLink, a service that enables members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with the local services that can support them:

Alternatively, if you think the person needs urgent medical care or they're under 18 years of age, you should call 999.

4. Make a donation to a charity

A number of different charities have joined forces under the Make Change Count campaign to directly help those living on the street. Making a donation to a registered charity is a great way to ensure those funds are given to help rough sleepers find a bed for the night.

5. Volunteer with us

Make a direct impact on the lives of the homeless in Lewes by volunteering with us, and working to improve the lives of those who need help the most. To find out more about volunteering, or the work we do at Lewes Open Door, please call 07806 777106

Claire Underwood
Why are people homeless?

It’s a simple question.

In an age of highly advanced technology and enough room for all, why is homelessness still even something we are discussing?

Shelter reports that one in 200 people are homeless in the UK. That might not be a startling figure, but when you consider it equates to roughly 320,000 people (and those are just the reported figures) it starts to give an indication of the crisis. Furthermore, these figures don’t take into account those couch surfing, or living bed-to-bed, under some of the most vulnerable circumstances imaginable.

So how can we let this happen?

Some assume that being homeless is a choice, or due to a lack of personal success. That it’s people who are lazy, can’t be bothered to find work, and would rather seek aid from strangers or rest at homeless shelters.

Let’s clear something up – homelessness is never a choice. In fact, on average, homeless people die at just 44 years old. It’s also ten fold more likely that someone sleeping rough has been the victim of violence, with most homeless people having been deliberately kicked or having experienced other forms of violence. Homeless people are also nine times more likely to take their own lives.

This is not a lifestyle choice. These are some of the most exposed people in the country being forced into an existence that is unjust, unreasonable, and unthinkable.

The causes of homelessness are as varied as the individuals it affects. It’s easy to use catchall terms like drug or alcohol abuse, but it’s much more complex than that. In fact, predominantly these can be symptoms of the cause, rather than the cause itself.

Personal reasons for homelessness are typically based on the kind of background the individual is from. For example, three of the main reasons given for becoming homeless are:

• Loved ones unwilling to support them
• Relationship breakdown or abuse
• Loss of a tenancy

These three causes could happen to the vast majority of us. It’s not difficult to imagine how close to homelessness any one of us is at any given time, and that makes its impact all the more real.

However, the majority of reasons are endemic, including unemployment, lack of housing, or institutional issues. Ultimately there is no single reason why someone can end up without a home. And while there are still systemic issues, it’s up to us to help. To find out more about volunteering, or the work we do at Lewes Open Door, please call 07806 777106

Claire Underwood
Celebration of Kindness

Come along to our ‘Celebration of Kindness’ to find out what we do at Lewes Open Door.

If you’re interested in volunteering to help the homeless and vulnerable in our community, or just want to know more, then we’d love to meet you. There will be some live acoustic music, drinks and nibbles too!

27th June - 6.30-8pm - Harvey’s Yard (off North Court) BN7 2AR

Claire Underwood
Police Donation

PCSO Collins proudly presented Lewes Open Door volunteers a cheque for £500 from the Police Property Act Fund to help the group towards funding new registrations and checks of their volunteers.

The Police Property Act Fund is made up of monies received by the police from the sale of found property and from property confiscated by order of court and then sold. More information can be found here.

police cheque LOD.jpg
Claire Underwood
Welcome To Our New Website

Welcome to our new website. We hope this site will answer lots of your questions about what we do, how to get involved, and about homelessness in general.

We must thank the people who generously gave up their time and skills for free to create this site.

Michael Bell Communications who designed the fantastic new logo and helped out with SEO.

Local photographer Catherine Benson whose excellent photos bring the site alive.

The writing was a team effort by Paul Walker, Belinda Crawford and David Griffiths. And the site was brought together by Claire Underwood.

We’ll use this blog for our big news - but to find out about the day to day work of Lewes Open Door please follow us on Facebook.

Claire Underwood