Who We Help
Here in Lewes we have seen an increasing number of people bedding down in doorways. It’s a national issue. In 2018 the homeless charity Crisis commissioned research which indicated that the number of rough sleepers in the UK was around 22,000 – with 12,300 sleeping on the streets and around 12,000 spending nights in cars, buses, trains or tents.
Single men make up over 80% of rough sleepers and are unlikely to be considered a priority for homing by the local authorities.
Apart from extreme temperatures, rough sleepers are often exposed to abuse, with homeless people almost 17 times more likely to be victims of violence and 15 times more likely to be verbally abused compared to the general public (source: Crisis).
There are a number of vulnerable people in our community.
By vulnerable, we include those that may have a very low income, relying on benefits and finding it impossible to budget for their weekly food and clothing. They may have problems with private rented housing and spiralling rents. They may currently be housed in temporary accommodation. They may be experiencing mental illness or finding life difficult after a relationship breakdown. They may have alcohol or drug related addictions and little support to try to address these health issues, or combat feelings of loneliness.
We can direct people to the right agencies to help address their specific needs, but in the first instance, Lewes Open Door offers a safe space where someone can have a healthy meal (or a chocolate biscuit if they prefer!) a cup of tea and find a friendly non-judgemental face and a listening ear.
It’s not just rough sleepers and homeless people whose lives are diminished by isolation, and feel excluded from mainstream society.
Social isolation, exclusion and loneliness is often associated with older people, especially those who may have lost a long-term partner. For example, Age UK estimate that one million older people in the UK can go for a whole month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
But loneliness and social isolation can affect people of all ages, for example full-time carers, unemployed adults and those with long-term medical conditions. It can have a significant impact on health and well-being, both physical and mental.
Research commissioned by Public Health England demonstrated that positive social relationships and networks can promote health by:
Providing individuals with a sense of belonging and identity
Sharing knowledge on how to access health and other public information and services
Influencing behaviour, for example through support to quit smoking, help with drug addiction, reduce alcohol intake, or to access health care when needed
Providing social support to cope with challenges such as pressures at work, or life changes such as redundancy or retirement
Problems may vary, but the human needs are just the same. And addressing those needs is a big part of Lewes Open Door’s vision.