Since forming at the start of last academic year, Sussex Help the Homeless Society (SHTH) have been working towards improving the living situation for homeless people across Brighton.

President Shannon Phillips decided to form the society with her friends, who are now committee members, after walking around Brighton and noticing the sheer volume of people sleeping on the streets.

After the shocking realisation that Sussex University didn’t previously have a well-established society dedicated to helping the homeless, Shannon decided to take action and speak to the Students’ Union about forming the society. Although many societies already do a lot of hard work to help the homeless, such as organising socials to fundraise for homeless charities, these issues were sidelined to the primary purpose of the society.

SHTH aims to fundraise and raise awareness for those sleeping on the streets, working closely with organisations in Brighton to improve the homeless epidemic. In the midsts of setting up and gaining membership last year, STHT also managed to organise and participate in numerous ventures to alleviate homelessness.

SHTH co-hosted a screening of Cathy Come Home with Sussex Film Society, a groundbreaking visual portrayal of the effects of homelessness in the UK. This event publicised and raised awareness about the implications of homelessness to the student community. Not only was this an amazing opportunity to circulate relevant information, but also a chance to highlight the need for change and give students the opportunity to get involved with SHTH.

With the intention of pairing up with more societies throughout the coming year, there will be a chance for both University organisations themselves and students to get involved. Last year, SHTH also assisted The Clock Tower Sanctuary, who organise a a drop-in service providing aid and support for young homeless people across Brighton & Hove.

The charity host an annual Christmas collection, with December being the busiest time of year for fundraising. A group from SHTH volunteered to help with the collection, dressing up in Christmas themed costumes and collecting money across Brighton to help to raise the crucial funds needed to run The Clock Tower Sanctuary’s drop-in service. Both committee and society members will be volunteering for this event again this year, which will take place on December 15. This will give students the chance to support those on the streets at one of the most crucial times of the year.

The biggest and most important event of last year was the March ‘Sleep-Out’, a UK wide event organised by YMCA and Galvanise. Setting up a Go-Fund Me webpage, SHTH managed to raise over £400, making it the most significant fundraising event of the year, helping the organisation provide preventative measures for the homeless across Brighton.

As well as planning to participate in this event again this year, SHTH has also gained inspiration from this event and will be organising their own on-campus Sleep-Out in the coming months.

SHTH are currently in conversation with the Students’ Union putting the plan into motion for this fundraising opportunity. This event will be a chance to get together with like-minded people to fundraise for a crucial cause that students are all very aware of in Brighton. The sleep-out will take place on November 29 or 30. For more information, sign up to the mailing list on the SHTH SU mini-page, or like the SHTH Facebook page.

With the first year primarily being dedicated to starting up the society, gaining membership and learning how to organise events, SHTH enters this academic year with many new plans in the works, aiming to fundraise both inside and outside of the university.

Moving in a completely new direction, SHTH has started emailing government officials and lobbyists to start a direct communication with local government. Due to a lack of resources, government action surrounding homelessness is extremely limited, with the need for policies to be changed and for real government action. With a Political Correspondent being appointed on the committee, there is now a direct focus on talking directly with the government to learn more about their policies and what can be done within the political system to generate impactful change.

Organisations, such as Galvanise, aim to end rough sleeping altogether, with this being a goal SHTH want to strive towards and see happen across the UK. SHTH will be continuing their communications with The Clock Tower Sanctuary, particularly across November, when volunteers from the society will be helping them at collections every Saturday of the month. Morning volunteers at Chapel Royal Cafe and afternoon volunteers at Whitehawk Football Club are still required.

With a sign-up sheet already circulating and quickly filling up, these opportunities will allow students to help out on an informal basis to raise funds for young people sleeping on the streets. One of the most important collaborations that will be occurring within the University will be with Sussex English Society (EngSoc). On December 13 and 14, they will be hosting an artistic recreation of The Vagina Monologues, a play that battles with issues of domestic violence. The recreation will both showcase people’s own versions of the existing monologues, as well as creating their own artistic pieces to perform.

EngSoc will be raising money for charities that support women suffering from abuse, as young women, in particular, can end up sleeping on the streets or living in unsafe, abusive environments.

Using art as a platform to raise awareness for this prominent issue, this unique event will similarly bring Sussex societies together to fundraise for the crucial organisations who support these women, such as Sussex based organisation Rise.

With every student being consciously aware of the sheer number of homeless individuals across the city, it is definitely not a problem that can be ignored. SHTH is a direct way to raise awareness and funds for this cause, working closely with university organisations and charities to implement change across Brighton.

There are also fortnightly members’ meetings currently taking place, details of which are also on the Facebook page. These meetings give members the chance to pitch their own ideas, meet the committee and get directly involved with the society. SHTH are always looking for more volunteers and potentially opportunities to work on the committee, so be sure to contact them directly if you want to try and ease the situations of those sleeping rough across Brighton.

For more information about how to get involved, email or visit their Facebook page to see details about upcoming events.

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