5 min read

Seagull Weekly Briefing 05/12

Wildlife corridor created, local religious observance decimated, coastline charity office incinerated and more
Picture of some cranes in Brighton
Source: The Brighton Seagull

Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull's Monday Briefing. It's December already, can you believe? Our editor has done all her Christmas shopping—that's the level of organisation required to bring you this briefing every week. The rest of us have not, but we're getting there.

Just a warning: our Big One today is a story about someone who died by suicide. We just wanted to let you know in advance.

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This edition of The Brighton Seagull is sponsored by Cybersyn, a friendly digital analytics consultancy based right here in Brighton.

News This Week

Brighton confirmed as godless hellhole by census

Photo of the sky above St Peter's Church
Source: The Brighton Seagull

More than half of the city has no religion, according to the results of the latest census. 55.2% of people in Brighton and Hove said they have no religion—up 13% from 2011—with the highest proportion of people reporting that living in Hanover (68.1%).

The lowest proportion of atheists live in West Blatchington (42.1%). The highest proportion of people identifying as Christian are in Rottingdean and Saltdean (44.9%). In total, 85,629 people in Brighton and Hove called themselves Christian, compared to 152,257 who say they have no religion.

Islam is the second biggest religion in the city at 8,500 people, up one third from 2011, and Buddhism and Judaism are the third biggest religions at 2,455 people, or 0.8%. There are 2,100 Hindus (0.8%), and 2,860 people identifying as 'other'—612 of these as Pagan, 435 agnostic, and 517 spiritual.

A total of 19,760 people did not state a religion in the census.


Lifesaving equipment burnt on beach

A charity that helps people in trouble on the beach has had its equipment destroyed by what is believed to be arson.

Brighton Beach Patrol, a charity whose volunteers have worked on the beach almost every night for the last eight years, found its building near West Street had been set on fire in the early hours of Thursday, 1st December, damaging its quad bike in the process.

They patrol between Brighton Pier and i360 on the quad bike. They said:

Our initial aim was to intercept members of the public attempting to enter the sea whilst intoxicated, however, our presence very quickly resulted in carrying out a wide range of other tasks, including safeguarding vulnerability, mental health, crime prevention, missing persons, predatory behaviour and beach fires.

Within the first year we had reduced not only drownings, but sexual assaults, suicides, physical assaults and beach fires. We soon gained a reputation with local businesses and residents as a point of call to report concerns for people near the waters edge or in distress on the promenade.

A 23-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident.

Brighton Beach Patrol have asked the public for help, looking for people who are able to help rebuild the unit so they can continue their work.

There is also a fundraiser to help the charity with its work. To donate, click here.

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🖋 News in Brief 🖋

  • An avenue of 30 elm trees have been planted in a 'wildlife corridor' between Hollingbury and Burstead woods, the wildlife reserve in Balfour, Varndean School and Varndean College's wildlife areas, and the Dorothy Stringer nature reserve woodland. It is the first elm avenue to be planted in Brighton since the Victorian times.
  • The theme of this year's Brighton Festival opening event, the Children's Parade, is 'one world, learning and growing from each other'. It will take place on Sunday 7th May.
  • Only 117 days until the Volks reopens!
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If you have a story for Seagull, please get in touch with our editor at [email protected].

The Big One

Transgender poet and artist dies by suicide after hospital stay in A&E

Source: The Clare Project

What's happening? A dog-loving poet and artist has died by suicide after being discharged from the Royal Sussex County Hospital's A&E department.

Who were they? Matty Sheldrick died aged 29, after a 'turbulent battle' with their mental health which included a three week stay in A&E during autumn of this year—there were no beds for them anywhere else.

What were they like? The Clare Project, which supports trans, non-binary and intersex adults and which Matty was a 'much loved' member of, described Matty as someone who was 'admired by many for their provocative poetry and artwork, kind nature, and love for the sea'.

They could often by found juggling at The Clare Project's drop-ins and Neurodivergent Group, or with their  dog Lola on community walks with The Clare Project.

They said:

We are deeply saddened to be sharing the news that our much-loved community member, Matty Sheldrick, has died.

Our mental health services are on their knees. Our mental health services are not designed or made with us in mind. Difficulty accessing and/or navigating the broken mental health system is painfully exacerbated if like Matty, you are also neurodivergent or Autistic.

Our mental health system grossly failed Matty, and sadly it continues to fail many, many more. Although they often struggled with making connections, Matty acted as a magnet for anyone looking to feel at ease in a world of chaos. A friend to so many, they will be hugely missed by us all.

We are continuing to support those close to Matty, their lovely family, our workers, and community members affected by the news of their death.

What else have The Clare Project said? They talked about the lack of support provided to Matty during their hospital stay, including access needs not being met, and allegations of their gender being questioned.

They also shared experiences Matty had in hospital, including being forcibly restrained and being injected with sedation without consent, as well as Matty saying they felt they weren't able to keep themselves safe at home.

What happened to Matty after they left hospital? Matty attempted suicide while in hospital on Friday, November 4, before being 'deemed within capacity' by the mental health capacity assessment and being told to leave A&E the next day.

They attempted suicide 30m from the doors of A&E that night.

Matty was found, resuscitated and went into cardiac arrest. They died in the ICU on Friday, 18th November.

What has the hospital said? A spokesman for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said:

We offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Matty Sheldrick and all those affected by their death.

The circumstances leading up to what happened will be investigated fully with our NHS partners and the findings will be shared with their family when complete.

As is normal practice, the investigation report will also be shared with the coroner to assist her investigation.

How can I pay my respects? The Clare Project is holding a space for people to remember Matty in the chapel at Dorset Gardens Church, from 9:30am to 12:30pm every weekday until Tuesday, December 13th.

Where can I go for help with my mental health? If you need support, please reach out to someone. You can call Samaritans (116 123) or National LGBT Switchboard (0300 330 0630) anonymously for support also, or if looking for advice information around thoughts of suicide, click here.

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