2018 GSK IMPACT Awards: Seaview Project

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Part of GSK IMPACT Awards

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  • Posted:Thursday 17 May 2018

Seaview Project works in a deprived area in England, with high rates of rough sleeping. Almost half the people it supports have a diagnosed mental health problem and many also have issues with addictions. Its open access wellbeing centre focuses on both homelessness and mental health, whilst offering food, warmth, washing facilities and access to a range of other services.

This charity does hugely valuable work in supporting its local community. We were impressed by how it has a big reach despite being relatively small. It shows an organisation making the best use of its resources and making a real difference to people’s lives.

GSK IMPACT Awards judging panel

Video transcript

Hastings and St Leonards is the thirteenth most deprived area in the country and has the ninth highest rate of rough sleeping - and unfortunately the numbers are going up year on year. There is a real lack of suitable accommodation for people who are moving from sometimes complex and chaotic conditions.

Seaview is the only open access wellbeing centre of its nature focusing on those that are homeless and rough sleeping in East Sussex outside of Brighton and Hove. We have laundry, showers, warm meals, a gym, we have activities and we have ways that people can link to life and to friendship.

When you’re out on the street people look at you like you’re nothing and they don’t give you the time of day, so when you come in here it’s like a completely different experience. 

I was safe in here, there were activities to take my mind off of things which really helped me in my recovery and the staff encouraged me to become a peer leader. To be told that I could be a good influence was really encouraging and my confidence just grew and grew. 

The staff and the managers involved are always smiling, they’re always positive and always proactive. They’re trusted and that trust is passed over by word of mouth.

Our income is less than £500,000 a year and we are helping up to 1,400 people every year and we served 6,500 hot meals last year. 

Many people who come through the door do have medical needs and find it difficult to access GP appointments. Sometimes they just need help registering for appointments, sometimes they actually need support in attending appointments and we work with our partner St John’s Ambulance to make that happen. So last year we helped 370 people attend almost 3,000 appointments. 

Three quarters of homeless people have at least one mental health problem and two thirds have a longstanding disability. Many people are dealing with addictions and have more than one issue going on at a time. 

The health inequalities of this group is really, really profound and more and more access to basic health care needs and information is online. 

As health care services become more digitised it could easily become another barrier for our client group. 

People needed one to one support they also need access to Wi-Fi.

The Seaview project is one of 20 pathfinder sites for digital health. It’s a voluntary sector led pathfinder site and it is also the only one for rough sleepers.

It makes a big difference to have someone sit down with them and just have that human contact. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking up or what you need to look at.

We can actually take that and then disseminate that learning out. We can share with other organisations that support people who are homeless around the country. 

We have a rough sleepers team that go out in the early mornings several times a week and they are really out there to check on the welfare of people who are rough sleeping in Hastings and St Leonards. 

On a personal level we know quite a lot of them anyway so we’ve got working relationship with them and we try to encourage them and promote the activities that we have here at Seaview.

We want people to be aware and we want people to be aware from an early age so we go out and speak in schools, churches, community groups and the Big Sleep is our biggest fundraiser. 

It brings people together and talking about the subject, raising the issue and coming together just to really try and make a difference. 

What is really great is when you see an organisation that embraces the challenges and looks at ways forward.

If it wasn’t for Seaview I don’t like to think where I might be now.