Press release 24.4.20. Covid-19 lockdown: People in Brighton and Hove with no access to water, sanitation and washing facilities

24 April 2020

 

Covid-19 lockdown:

People in Brighton and Hove with no access to water, sanitation and washing facilities

 

Healthwatch Brighton and Hove … always part of the solution

Healthwatch Brighton and Hove has been concerned to learn that some families living by the roadside in Brighton and Hove have little or no access to water, toilets, showers, and laundry facilities.

Healthwatch Brighton and Hove Chief Executive, David Liley, said today:

“The conditions described to us are shameful. Public toilets locked or in a filthy condition, no access to showers, a woman having to push a 40ltr water butt by foot a 3-mile round trip, up and down a public road. Healthwatch asked the City Council to address these issues a week ago and have just received a reply today. It would not seem too much to ask for the Council to discuss the needs of individuals and families with the charities that represent Travellers.”

Healthwatch has been told of a number of camps across the City where Travellers are in need of basic amenities.

The charity Friends Families and Travellers visited the toilets at Stanmer and the Level and found they did not have any soap.  The toilets at the Level are particularly dirty, with one of the toilets closed. There is no access to a tap at Stanmer and the attached photo of the toilets and tap at East Brighton Park tell their own story.

Stephen Greenhalgh Minister at the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government has issued advice:

“To enable compliance with COVID-19 public health guidance on hygiene requirements, access to basic facilities is essential.  This might involve the provision of additional temporary water, sanitation and waste disposal facilities to those currently lacking access to these. Or making alternative stopping places available, such as transit sites, suitable local authority land, and holiday campsites which may have closed and have established facilities.”

  • Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government, March/April 2020.

There should also be resources available to address these issues.

The Government have provided  “….£3.2 million in targeted funding to local authorities to protect rough sleepers; and a £500 million Hardship Fund, so that local authorities can provide council tax relief and other financial support to the most vulnerable people and households in their area.” Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government, March/April 2020.

Other local authorities such as Bristol and Leeds have provided access to showers and laundry facilities.

A statement from Brighton and Hove City Council received today states:

The chair of the council’s housing committee, Councillor Gill Williams, said:

‘In this time of national crisis, we have visited all the city’s van dwellers and offered them alternative accommodation.

This would provide people with the facilities they need over the time of the pandemic and enable them to self-isolate if that is required.

However, we cannot force them to accept this offer.

Our traveller support team has carried out welfare checks and given advice in line with government guidance.

The team will continue to be in regular contact with people in lived-in vehicles at all the locations we are aware of.

We have also given information to people in lived-in vehicles about available toilets, water supplies and refuse points across the city.

We’ve closed most of the public toilets in the city following the continued government requirement for people to stay at home.

We’ve had increasing difficulties operating and maintaining them safely, including a rise in anti-social behaviour and vandalism.

We have kept a number of toilets open for people who do not have access to any other toilet facilities. This includes people living in vans.

Residents are being very specifically asked not to leave their homes if they don’t need to, and to exercise as near to their homes as possible. This means that residents should not need to use public toilets.”

A senior spokesperson from Brighton and Hove Council also told Healthwatch today that a team of council officers are seeking solutions and hope to be able to offer these families improved services and other alternatives next week.

COVID-19 MITIGATING IMPACTS ON GYPSY TRAVELLER COMMUNITIES (00000003)

Interviews are available from:

David Liley, Chief Officer, Healthwatch Brighton and Hove

david@healthwatchbrightonandhove.co.uk

07931 755343

 

Abby Kirkby, Friends, Families and Travellers

Abbie@gypsy-traveller.org

 

Michelle Gavin, Friends, Families and Travellers

Michelle@gypsy-traveller.org

 

Interviews are available directly with some of the individuals and families having difficulties with water supply, sanitation, washing and laundry facilities and refuse collection.

 

Healthwatch Team

01273 234 041

office@healthwatchbrightonandhove.co.uk

Also:

Twitter          – @HealthwatchBH

Facebook      – facebook.com/healthwatchbrightonandhove

 

 

Press release ends