Support Off The Fence This September With a Vote in Our Charity Poll!
For over 20 years, Off The Fence has been working in the Brighton and Hove area with the area’s most vulnerable people, tackling social and spiritual poverty, and helping members of the community who are facing crisis situations with little or no support. Their priority is to provide a practical, emotional and psychological safety net for the socially excluded in Brighton & Hove. To this end, Off The Fence operates three projects:
Antifreeze - a day centre for the homeless. This is part of an emergency outreach to rough sleepers.
A school programme for 6-18 year olds.
Gateway - a women’s centre supporting women in crisis.
Overall, the charity's mission is resisting poverty, empowering people, and restoring hope.
How Do Off The Fence Support Vulnerable People in Brighton and Hove?
Homelessness doesn’t necessarily start with a first night on the streets. It doesn’t even begin with a night on a friend’s sofa or a hostel. It may start with a difficult time in school, mental health problems, a difficult relationship or family breakdown. Homelessness doesn’t end with a bed surrounded by four walls and a roof either. It ends with stability, community and most importantly, hope about the future.
Off The Fence works on the premise that homelessness isn’t solved by a sleeping bag and hot food, while this is still an excellent place to start. The charity is committed to offering the practical tools and emotional support needed for a transformed life and a brighter future.
Within the last year, the charity has had to weather three storms. Brexit has created economic uncertainty, and the General Election barely gave attention to the disadvantaged. However, the largest of all has been the Covid-19 pandemic. Since early 2020, the pandemic has led to a complete overhaul of how the charity operates.
The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic
It could be argued that coronavirus has created an environment where rough sleepers are no longer can no longer be allowed to live outside. A vast majority have been temporarily housed within the city’s hotels and B&Bs. In August, they will be moved again - this time into unused student facilities. While this is so far so good, these are short term arrangements. Given that no one knows what will happen with underlying economic trends, it’s incredibly likely that homeless numbers will increase dramatically once lockdown is fully over.
36% of rough sleepers are not native to Brighton and Hove, and the migration south is sure to continue. As the Government’s furlough scheme ends, redundancies, the porous nature of Universal Credit and the impact of the global recession will see thousands of the poor turn into homeless overnight.
Another impact of Covid-19 has been the increased demand for the services provided to vulnerable women through the charity’s Gateway Centre. Social distancing has meant that the comfort and strength of sharing and meeting adversity together is removed. Additionally, staff have been furloughed, and virtual communication and doorstep-confined one-to-ones have become crucial tools. The Gateway team has been amazing in adapting to the ‘new normal,’ and communication with every single one of the 199 women in their care is the main priority.
As a result of the school closures, the charity have also had to reduce their work to a core service in this area too. They have been making contact with the five core schools they serve, making offers to work with key worker's children who are still in school and offering virtual online assistance. Sadly, shortly afterwards, the schools team was furloughed.
The response to the pandemic has meant that the charity have shown that they are adaptable, robust, and committed in pursuing their mission.
The Hygiene For All Project
In honour of National Hygiene Week this September, we are delighted to be working with Off The Fence this month in our charity poll. Their Hygiene For All Project provides health and hygiene to rough sleepers in Brighton and Hove. Proper hygiene is key to a sense of self worth and better health, and everyone should have the right to basic health and hygiene. Simple things such as being able to brush teeth, clean with soap, wash hands and getting access to feminine hygiene products, clean underwear and socks should be accessible to everyone, and this is what Off The Fence provides.
Sitting within their Antifreeze project, the Hygiene For All project allows homeless men and women to gain access to these basic needs. This is done through their mobile laundry van and mobile shower van. Ultimately, the project works towards the mission of getting individuals housed, employed and back on their feet.
You can support Off The Fence this September by voting for them in our charity poll to help them win 20% of this month’s profits. To make a donation, or find out more about their work, visit their website: https://www.offthefence.org.uk/.