Before Christmas I saw on my Facebook feed, a plea from Brighton In Need to provide things to the homeless community in Brighton.
I contacted the organisor, a wonderful lady called Lydia and offered my photographic services during the drop that she was organising. It was an eye opener.
Lydia explained she was shocked by the amount of homeless people on a recent night out and was worried about them having the things they really needed to survive whilst living on the streets; sleeping bags, warm socks, gloves, hats and personal cleaning items. I’m the first to admit that I walk by homeless people giving change occasionally during my infrequent evening jaunts into Brighton, let alone give a thought to how cold they must be overnight. I know how warm I like to keep after the sun has gone down and felt quite bad talking with the very selfless Lydia.
So after spending the evening photographing people at The Grand celebrating Christmas, I met up with Lydia and volunteer the team up half way up West Street. They had already walked from the Prince Albert (!) and had made a few drops on the way.
Armed with donated coats, sleeping bags and back packs filled with essentials such as a hat, gloves, heated pads and socks. There was even ladies toiletries available … something I hadn’t even thought of.
I was really worried about my DSLR camera being on view but apart from being categorically told I should sell my camera by a very per-pissant person and give it to “all the homeless people”, I luckily only got accosted by a couple of revelers demanding I take their photo. Permission to take a photograph was asked to every one we met. Only one chap declined.
Almost straight away, we met Kate.
Kate was made up with her sleeping bag, roll mat and back pack containing essential supplies including heated hand pads. She showed us her bracelet too!
We then headed towards the station and under the very colorful underpass dropping off a sleeping bag and a back pack to someone who had already settled in for the evening.
We then met Stewart and Wayne near the Hobgoblin. The boys were totally made up with their back packs and sleeping bags.
Heading towards the North Street, we met Zeb.
Zeb was made up with his back pack and got a bit choked up when Lydia produced some dog food!
We then met Nick. Nick was the first person to make me cry that evening. Lydia gave him a sleeping bag and a back pack which he went through. Nick then said “Someone brought me this hat earlier today (pointed to his head) and the gloves I already have are really warm so give the hat and gloves to someone else.” Both the volunteer next to me and I had to turn away as we had both filled up!
Heading towards The Lanes, we then met Mark and Misty (not to be confused with Mork and Mindy!). Mark was really funny and just look at Misty smiling lol!
We then met Amy and Ru. They had one grubby sleeping bag between them. They were really happy to get a new one each.
Crossing the road by the taxi rank, we met Nicky and Bronwyn. They were really very grateful for the ladies items and extra coats.
Near the Funfair Club, we met G Dog. I was personally shocked to see such a lovely articulate man on the streets. He was ABSOLUTELY made up with his new coat and checked his reflection in a nearby car and then asked me to take a couple more photos including one with his mutter.
AND THEN BRAIDY APPEARED! Braidy has already received a pack earlier in the evening and came running up to G Dog shouting “You won’t believe how warm my feet are. I’ve got fucking heated feet pads!” He then took off his shoes to show the pads to G Dog and make him feel them. G Dog’s reply?! “I couldn’t give a shit about your feet pads, I’ve got a new coat!” I filled up again and had a good giggle.
We then bumped into Jelly & friend, who accepted new coats and our last sleeping bag. Jelly then started to sing us a song … until we were rudely interrupted by a pissed reveler who demanded Jelly sing her song. This made me realise the majority of the homeless people on the streets of Brighton are at the mercy of tanked up people. This made me feel very sad.
Our last meeting was with Debbie. She was a lively ol’soul and said she was gutted we had run out of sleeping bags. As she was trying on a donated coat, another homeless chap turned up and Debbie voiced to him that she was gutted she’d missed out on a sleeping bag … the chap then gave her his sleeping bag that Lydia had given to him earlier. She screamed and gave him the biggest hug!
So that was my trip around Brighton with the awesome Lydia and the volunteer team from Brighton in Need. VOLUNTEER TEAM YOU WERE AMAZING! I crawled into my bed about 2am … and thanked my lucky stars for everything I have.
Since Christmas, Lydia continues her quest to provide for the homeless, charity bases & drop in centres in Brighton and surround. She volunteers already and is working tirelessly to raise awareness. She is an absolute diamond and with a full time job, doing this out of love … aided by you, the givers. So please don’t stop any of you. Brighton in Need isn’t about the politics of the whys or wherefores of why there are homeless people or who is in charge of the local council or in government, this about dealing with things head on so please go follow the Brighton in Need Facebook page if you haven’t already and share the page to your local Brighton friends. Look out for the posts and if you can donate, please get in touch with Lydia.
The awesome Jumpstart in Horsham have created some great logos to identity future Brighton in Need activity too.
Keep warm in your beds tonight peeps xXx
p.s. If you like what you see, please LIKE my Infinity Photographic Facebook page for lots of awesome photos and news on my exhibition project for 2015 called ‘The Human Life Cycle’. My post on Lizzy tells you more about it.