All student members of ‘Class of 2020’had to plan and carry out a community activity as a part of the Diploma in Humanistic and Creative Counselling at Dunamis.
Various options were considered including a beach litter pick and community gardening however in the end, distributing supplies to rough sleepers was settled on and one of the team carried out a risk assessment.
Timing and Location
It was agreed that the activity might have added meaning if carried out towards the end of the diploma and as such be a part of the ending. Students agreed on a Sunday in March, the final month of college. A member, who was the driving force behind the idea and had previous experience working with rough sleepers in Brighton, suggested early evening, once the local shops had closed and shoppers dispersed. Brighton centre was agreed on for several reasons, the prevalence of rough sleepers in the city one being one, and the fact that the group member had experience and prior knowledge of visiting rough sleepers in the area.
The group randomly divided themselves into two groups of three students, and one of two students, since it was agreed that a large group could be intimidating.
A list of supplies was compiled and one of the cohort visited a cash and carry to buy individually wrapped biscuits, a large tub of hot chocolate,another member made fresh sandwiches on the day and another purchased pre-packed sandwiches. One of the group brought dog food, wipes, socks, hats and gloves and another sourced lots of ‘fizzy pop’. Whilst yet another brought her unusually large personal collection of flasks.Finally one student hosted the commencement of the project.
On the day
The team drove a combined total of 5 hours to reach Brighton and convene at the hosts house in Hove. On arrival flasks of hot chocolate and coffee were prepared and the supplies divided into backpacks . The team added their location to the group WhatsApp chat and squeezed into two cars to drive to a central Brighton car park.
One of the cohort had prepared a suggested route for each of the three teams and handed out maps. Team 1, headed west towards Hove and stumbled across a large gathering of rough sleepers – a pre-planned event on Hove seafront where food and other supplies were being distributed. Despite this, team 1 met eight rough sleepers on their route who were happy to take hot drinks and supplies from them.
Team 2, set off south-east, covering the south Laines, the Old Steine and Kemp Town. They met seven rough sleepers, including several unmanned sleeping areas where supplies were left next to sleeping bags.
Team 3, headed north covering London Road and the north Laines, and met ten rough sleepers. Between the three teams circa 15k of Brighton was covered and food, drinks and other supplies were distributed to 25 rough sleepers. A small drop in the ocean, but hopefully those 25 were left feeling like they mattered for one night at least.