A new project launches this month which aims to support LGBT+ people in economic hardship who live in Brighton by providing free independent and person-centred advocacy.
In July 2015 MindOut were successful in a Big Lottery bid to fund a five-year Urgent Need Advocacy project. The aim of this service is to support those in economic hardship by providing free, independent and person-centred advocacy. They are seeing an increasing amount of people who are struggling to afford their rent/ mortgages, to afford to buy food or finding it difficult to access mental health treatment when they really need it.
The housing crisis in Brighton has a part to play in this, as well as the ever-increasing cost of living and long waiting lists for NHS treatment. More people are on zero hours contracts, living with the uncertainty of whether they will have work week to week. Many people experience difficulties with the welfare benefits system, such as being denied a benefit that they are rightly entitled to.
The pressure and stress of dealing with such issues can have a massive impact on someone’s mental health, leading to feelings of depression, anxiety and hopelessness.
At first, Lucas was doing fine. He moved to Brighton where he had a few friends, delighted to leave Basingstoke and ready for a change. He found a room in a shared house, nothing special but the others were okay. He had a bit saved up for a deposit and to see him through. He had a job lined up with the supermarket he worked for back home. Minimum wage, but at least it was work.
At first, he got enough shifts, covered the rent and had a bit spare. Then two people came back from sick leave and his hours dropped. He asked for more, but the manager just shrugged. After a couple of months he could only just afford the rent and became terrified of being evicted. The only way he could make the rent was not to eat.
He got more and more stressed, low and anxious. He started to experience panic attacks when he went outside and was terrified that he wouldn’t be able to hold down the job.
Lucas got in touch with the online support service at MindOut, who recommended he see the Urgent Need Advocacy Service for support. He was able to receive a food parcel at his first appointment the following day.
Lucas found that having a safe space to explain what was going on and explore his options helped him to see a way forward. He was able to negotiate more regular hours at work and felt able to talk to his landlord about setting up a repayment plan to address his rent arrears.
With the advocate, Lucas found out what options there were to support his mental health. These included peer support and he is now attending Work It Out, a group for people who are in employment and struggling with mental health concerns.
Lucas’s story is not unusual: someone in work, with housing, who simply cannot afford to eat and is very close to street homelessness.
Who is the service for?
LGBT+ people in and around Brighton who are in need of support around issues, such as:
♦ Financial difficulties, such as benefits issues or debt worries;
♦ Concerns around mental or physical health;
♦ Difficulties around work;
♦ Fuel and/or food poverty;
♦ Anything else which is causing distress and worry.
If you are outside the Brighton & Hove area do still make contact as they can help you access support in your local area.
How can they help you?
♦ They’re able to provide food parcels or vouchers if you are in need of food as well as providing information on where you can access free and cheap meals throughout the city.
♦ They can help you explore the options available to you and help you to decide what is the best way forward is.
♦ They can link you in with services and attend appointments with you if needed.
♦ They can help you claim benefits and attend assessments and appeals with you, when possible.
♦ They can help you to know what your rights are and support you in challenging decisions you are not happy with. This could be in relation to your housing situation, treatment you have received from the NHS or something which has happened at work.
Who are the advocates?
Emma Crossland (top right): “I’m MindOut’s Urgent Need Advocate and have worked for MindOut for just over a year. I have ten years’ experience supporting those in urgent need living in supported accommodation and feel privileged to be able to use my experience and skills to support the local LGBTQ community.”
Liam O’Hare (top left): “I’m the Urgent Need Advocacy worker at the Allsorts Youth Project. I work with LGBT young people aged 16-25. I’ve worked for two years to tackle anti-LGBT bullying in secondary schools and support migrant children at school. I find my work supporting young people in need highly fulfilling.”
If you would like to know more about the Urgent Need Advocacy service contact MindOut or Allsorts.
This service is free, confidential, independent and non-judgemental.
♦ Call 01273 234839
♦ Email firstname.lastname@example.org
♦ For more information, click here: www.mindout.org.uk
♦ Call 01273 721211
♦ Email: email@example.com
♦ For more information, click here:
To find out more about the new Urgent Need Advocacy Service go along to the launch on Wednesday, January 18 from 4–6pm at the Brighthelm Centre, North Road. Everyone is welcome! Light refreshments will be served.
If you would like to talk to someone about any aspect of your mental health, do get in touch.
MindOut services are confidential, independent, non-judgemental and free and are run by and for LGBT+ people with lived experience of mental health issues.