A thousand small bricks – a home for migrants in Brighton

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A thousand small bricks - a home for migrants in Brighton

France has closed the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp. But there’s a new project in Brighton to house migrants. Hundreds of people are giving small amounts of money to help. Amy Hall reports.

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A group at The Rose Hill Tavern, Brighton © Helen Rebecca Lucas

In 2016 Britain, there are anti-migrant headlines in newspapers, more and more racism, lists of foreign workers and foreign children, more hate crime and people complaining about refugee children who look ‘too old’ to need help. But there is also another story – people who want to help.

One example is in Brighton and Hove, in the south of England. People are helping migrants who get no support with independent housing.

Thousand 4 £1000 wants to get 1,000 people to give £1 a month. They are already getting more than £650 a month. Here is the link: https://brightonmigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/1000-for-1000/

Brighton Migrants Solidarity (BMS) started this. They met many people who were homeless or sleeping on many different sofas, waiting with uncertain immigration status.

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Helen Rebecca Lucas

House prices in Brighton and Hove were nearly five times higher in 2015 than in 1995 – the biggest increase in the country. There are many people sleeping in the streets.

In summer 2015, in the refugee crisis, more people wanted to help in a practical way.

One year after the idea started, the first three people moved into a house that Thousand 4 £1000 rented. Other local people gave the furniture. They pay a reduced rent for the house through a housing association.

One of the residents, from East Africa, had spent two years homeless in Brighton, sleeping on friends’ sofas and the streets.

‘I was on medication for depression. I was just hanging around Brighton because I was scared to sleep anywhere,’ he says.

He lived in the city for 16 years, but he never had secure immigration status and for the last two years has been trying to get a new visa from the Home Office. He is not allowed to work or get benefits.

‘Now I feel much better,’ he says. ‘I’m at home in a nice house because of nice people.’

NACCOM (No Accommodation Network) says that about 6,000 people a year in Britain finish the asylum process but do not leave the country, mostly because there is nowhere else for them to go. In 2015, 64 per cent of asylum applications were refused at first.

BMS have also run a spare room network in Brighton (a City of Sanctuary), but they say that the Thousand 4 £1000 project gives more independence to people, so they can take part in the community.

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A banner of the Thousand 4 £1000 project in Brighton. Helen Rebecca Lucas

Jacob Berkson of BMS is happy with the project. ‘My favourite moment was when one resident was really pleased to tell me that he’d forgotten his keys. He said “I thought it was brilliant that I’d forgotten my keys – I haven’t had keys to forget for a long time.”’

When Thousand 4 £1000 has more than its target of £1000 a month, they will try to rent more places for homeless people. In the future, they want to buy a house.

Find out more about Thousand 4 £1000 on the Brighton Migrant Solidarity website: https://brightonmigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: https://www.newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2016/10/27/a-thousand-small-bricks-to-make-a-home-for-all/ (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have changed).