The idea for Umbrella Brighton & Hove grew out of a conversation between Mandy Taylor and a St Mungo’s service manager. This highlighted the difficulty of homeless people moving off the street because they do not have the funds to access the Private Rented Sector (PRS). They need a deposit, rent in advance and fees. The service manager asked if there was a way to provide interest free loans.
The project developed with individuals and people representing a variety of interested organisations joining one by one. It became apparent that most street homeless are not ready to move into the PRS as there may be health and other issues to address first. A period in supported housing is usually needed. As a result, most of our clients come from supported housing, making space for the street homeless as they move on.
Our first client moved into their flat in April 2017. We formed a Community Interest company in November 2017. The directors are Mandy Taylor, John Taylor (financial and company management experience), Jane Smith (a landlord and former solicitor) and Paulus Smith (runs his own business, also a landlord). The directors are all volunteers.
We work very closely with our partners and have two regular meetings. Roughly monthly we hold a “Client Meeting” with representatives from Brighton YMCA, St Mungo’s, Southdown, Brighton & Hove City Council, Justlife and Safehaven Sussex. About two-monthly we hold a “Strategy Meeting” with representatives from the Council and East Sussex Credit Union.
We are encouraged with the way so many people have caught the vision and look forward to continuing to harness this energy to support the homeless in our lovely city.