Nationally, rough sleeping has doubled since 2010, according to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The same report charted Hastings as the local authority with the 9th highest rate of rough sleeping per 1,000 households in the country (based on a ‘snapshot’ rough sleeper count on a single night).
Hastings Borough Council will place eligible homeless people in temporary accommodation, but many other rough sleepers are not considered sufficiently vulnerable under housing law, or they fail one of the other tests that local authorities are required to apply when considering a homeless application.
Even given the provision of grants for deposits and rent in advance, accessing the private rented sector has become increasingly difficult, with a growing housing shortage and many landlords requiring guarantors and referees. In addition to this, there is a dearth of supported accommodation places in the Hastings area, with applicants typically facing a wait of many months for a vacancy.
Rough sleepers therefore tend to become increasingly entrenched in their lifestyles, mental and physical health problems and substance misuse exacerbated by homelessness, caught in a vicious circle, with little hope of getting off the streets.
There has been mounting frustration over recent years amongst Christians and others working with homeless people in Hastings, over the lack of both temporary and longer-term housing solutions, causing huge concern for those ‘stuck’ in their life on the streets.
In 2015-2016, a few Hope Kitchen trustees and volunteers heard about and communicated with various Christian supported accommodation projects that have been operating successfully for years in other parts of the country and, in most cases growing rapidly, with the financial and practical support of national social enterprise, Green Pastures.
Inspired by these tried and tested models, a number of Christians from a variety of local churches, including King’s Church, were envisioned to initiate something similar here: accommodation for homeless people in Hastings, St Leonards and Bexhill, supported practically and pastorally by local churches, combined with voluntary work opportunities – an essential element in the recovery process.
As a result, Transom Trust, an inter-church project with a common vision to express faith in loving, practical action, was formed and we purchased our first home in summer 2017.
If you would like to find out more about Transom Trust, including how to volunteer to work with the homeless men we are currently supporting.