On August 24th concerned citizens and activists from a number of campaigns and groups including Brighton Benefits Campaign, Brighton People’s Assembly, Brighton Solidarity Federation and Marea Granate gathered in Brighton’s Old Steine gardens to raise awareness of the mass homelessness which will result from the bedroom tax and other benefit cuts.
Because of the weather, a large marquee (kindly lent by Duncan Blinkhorn) formed the focus. There was much public interest during the afternoon despite the heavy rain with many leaflets given out, some interesting debates and a high level of support. In the evening the Red-Green singers led enthusiastic versions of old songs adapted to the current circumstances and ending with an inspiring rendition of the Internationale.
We heard from Brighton Benefits Campaign. Our friends from Marea Granate held a meeting. Food and drink was shared and we made many cups of tea (later resulting in many trips to the bushes!). Guitars were played and we had another, even more rousing go at Bella Chiao.
Around 23 people spent the whole of the wet and increasingly cold night sleeping out under canvas, in tents or in the marquee. During the night those of us who remained in the marquee were joined by another ten people. Some were street homeless, others for one reason or another adrift in Brighton with nowhere to stay the night, including one young man visiting the city who had lost his companions after an evening out and was completely lost.
All in all, despite horrible weather, the Sleep Out was a success, reaching a lot of people and gaining support. Our event was one of many throughout the country, raising awareness of the issues to a new level. The contribution of so many homeless or precariously housed people also brought home the desperate housing situation in this country today.
WE SAY BRING BACK RENT CONTROLS AND HOUSING SECURITY, COMMITMENT TO SOCIAL HOUSING AND THE USE OF EMPTY PROPERTIES, PRIORITY GIVEN TO SOLVING HOMELESSNESS, A DECENT LEVEL OF BENEFITS BASED ON NEED, AND AN END TO CORPORATE WELFARE!
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Indymedia wrote up a good report http://indyrikki.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/brighton-opsleepout-protest-report-and-pics/
Filmaker Bob Maddams shot footage & interviews which we will post up asap
The Argus did write us up – article below (not online as yet)