Rough sleeping in Hastings is a growing problem – Seaview plans positive action

As the number of rough sleepers in Hastings soars the Seaview Project has announced plans for this year’s ‘Big Sleep’ to raise money, and funds, to tackle the problem head-on.

This year’s event will take place on The Stade open space on September 28th. You can register now to be part of it by going to www.thebigsleephastings.com. This year’s event will feature music from Bobby Fuego’s Fat Fingers of Funk Band, The Haystingers and King Size Slim and will be hosted by TV and radio presenter Kevin Devine.

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King Size Slim performing around the brazier at last year’s Big Sleep. Photo: John Stiles.

Four years ago there were fewer that 100 rough sleepers in and around Hastings and today that number has grown to well in excess of 300 and the rate of increase shows no signs of abating.

Seaview’s sponsored mass sleep-out aims to raise awareness of the scale of the problem and to bring in much needed funds to help some of the town’s most vulnerable people. Last year’s Big Sleep raised more than £25,000 and organisers are hopeful they can beat that this year. The Big Sleep will run from 8pm to 7am and entertainment is free and open to all between 8pm and 10pm.

The Big Sleep is organised by the Seaview Awareness 4 Action Group – A4A – comprised of a group of volunteers who are passionate about the work of Seaview which has its base at the Southwater Centre in Hatherley Road, St Leonards.

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Hastings Borough Council Leader Peter Chowney, and Councillor Nigel Sinden (now Hastings’ Mayor) with HBC staff last year. Photo: John Stiles.

For 33 years Seaview Project has been supporting some of the most vulnerable people in Hastings and St Leonards, most of whom experience problems with accommodation. The reality of sleeping rough is not something experienced by the majority of people, and albeit for one night only, The Big Sleep allows those taking part to understand something of the reality of bedding down for the night with only a cardboard box and sleeping bag for warmth.

The Big Sleep is a ticketed event and those who want to take part should register by midday on  September 27th, the cost is £25. The sleep-out starts at 10pm in a ‘cardboard city’ on the Stade, hot drinks will be available throughout the night with porridge served the following morning – a luxury genuine rough sleepers do not have access to.

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Steve Sampson is now a regular participant in The Big Sleep.

Steve Sampson has taken part in The Big Sleep before and says: “…it does give an experience of sleeping rough in a cardboard box but you don’t experience the isolation which I imagine is very frightening.”

Individuals and teams can register to take part and there are prizes to be won for top fundraisers and there are sponsorship incentives too: raise £75 or more and receive a Big Sleep T-shirt, raise £150 and get a Big Sleep hoodie. Prizes will be announced on the night for the biggest individual and team fundraisers.

Organisers suggest that anyone under the age of 18 who would like to play their part could consider sleeping out in their garden. All you need to do is seek permission from a parent or guardian to hold your own sleep out on the September28th, raise a minimum of £25 and they will be provided with a Big Sleep cardboard box, a free hat, badge, soup and porridge pot. For more details please contact the Big Sleep team on mail@thebgsleephastings.com

There are also corporate fundraising opportunities available for local businesses to get involved, in return for their support of the event they will get a promotional banner or logo placement on ‘The Big Sleep’ merchandise.

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Business sponsorship means all cash raised by the Big Sleepers goes directly towards Seaviews frontline services working with the homeless and vulnerable, previous business sponsors have included: The Hastings and St Leonards Foreshore Trust, Undercliffe House, Half Man Half Burger, Hastings Lions, Harvest Green, FILO, Ashdown Hurrey, Symes Roofing, Hastings Round Table, Kings Church and Dynamic Scaffolding.

Seaview is an open access wellbeing centre that helps those living on the margins of society, and the only one of its kind in Hastings and St Leonards. Most clients experience problems with their accommodation and are living in inadequate accommodation, sofa surfing and/or sleeping rough on the streets. Due to reductions in government funding in recent years, Seaview relies more and more on donations.

Seaview provides affordable meals and drinks; emergency food parcels; free clothes store and household goods store; free showers, haircuts and laundry facilities; dedicated rough sleeper workers; regular access to a nurse and podiatrist; and a range of activities to help and encourage people to reach their full potential.

Seaview works with almost 1,400 people a year, and in the last year alone served more than 8,600 hot, affordable meals.

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