Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull's Weekly Briefing. It's been a bit of a rainy weekend, hasn't it? Team Seagull had a wonderful time at a Hallowe'en party this weekend and will be going to see the Preston Park fireworks on Wednesday—clearing away the last of the pre-festive occasions before we get the jumpers and the carols out for the long run-up to Christmas. Let's go!
News This Week
Young constituents challenge MP Peter Kyle to call for an immediate ceasefire
Activists are continuing to put pressure on MP Peter Kyle, questioning the Shadow Secretary of State on his 'unequivocal support for the actions of the Israeli state and his silence on the plight of the Palestinian people'.
The activists, Hove constituents and members of Green New Deal Rising, had a meeting with the MP at his office on Friday. This is the second rally targeting the MP—the first was last week, where sixty people gathered as part of a national day of action.
So far, 90 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion calling for the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary to use their influence to call for a ceasefire. Signatories to the Early Day Motion include Brighton Pavillion MP Caroline Lucas, and Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle.
Jasmine Reeve, 28, one of the activists who questioned the MP, said:
As a member of Peter Kyle’s constituency and a Labour Party supporter I was deeply disappointed to sit across from him today as he denied a genocide was happening and refused to consider calling for a ceasefire. I have lost faith and am seriously reconsidering who I will be voting for in the upcoming elections. I cannot believe that our government and the main opposition party are giving the Israeli government the thumbs up to kill men, women and children in Gaza and persecute people in the occupied West Bank.
In a comment to The Seagull, Peter Kyle said:
The actions of Hamas on Israeli people was truly atrocious. I, along with my colleagues in the Labour party, unwaveringly support Israel in their fight against Hamas terror.
However, all actions of self-defence must be carried out within international law and must not target civilians, or the health workers that are providing them with much needed critical care.
Keir Starmer has stated that civilians must not be targeted and called for humanitarian corridors providing food, water, electricity and medicines. I hope the protesters from Brighton hear this message and feel their time and energy will be better spent protesting at the Prime Minister.
Bright Start Nursery may be able to remain open
A nursery that's been at risk of closing might able to continue to provide care for children.
The nursery, which is currently based in the converted Slipper Baths within the Prince Regent swimming complex, was planned for closure last year as part of budget savings and due to the building being unsuitable for nursery provision.
However, after feedback from parents and carers who use the nursery, plus other residents, it was given a one-year reprieve.
Councillors will now discuss five options for the future of Bright Start at a meeting of the Children, Families and Schools committee next Monday.
The preferred option is to provide a permanent, smaller nursery just a few hundred metres away in the council’s Tarner Family Hub on Ivory Place that would continue to meet the needs of the majority of families who currently use Bright Start.
The other options include: do nothing, close the nursery, consider alternative providers to continue to run an earlt years provision at the Old Slipper baths, and consider moving the nursery to another site not within the Tarner Family hub.
Councillor Jacob Taylor, joint chair of the committee, said:
I’ve always had a great affection for Bright Start, not only because I attended the nursery as a child, but also because it delivers fantastic and much-needed childcare to our diverse community.
Bright Start is a setting of sanctuary and provides especially outstanding care for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
🖋 News in Brief 🖋
- The Prince Albert pub (you know, the one with the mural) is under threat from developers again. You can read more on the pub's ongoing planning problems here, but the long and short of it is they need as many signatures on their petition as they can get before their council meeting on Wednesday. They're already at 12,633 at the time of writing.
Dog of the Week
It's just a bit of fun!
Longtime readers will remember the tiny bundle of fluff that was Beau—this is him now! Renamed Barney, he's the dog of our editor's godfather Ben, and his husband. He was born on Ben's birthday, and they chose him on their seventeenth anniversary. He loves mud, sticks, waking up at 6am, and eating frogs and wasps.
The Big One
25% increase in people relying on food banks in the city
What's happening? A report from Brighton and Hove Food Partnership has revealed more than 6,400 people in the city are relying on food banks, a 25% increase from 2022.
What's the reason for the increase? A variety of reasons, but a big part of it is the cost-0f-living crisis. The Trussell Trust has calculated that the current weekly rate of Universal Credit falls short of the cost of essentials, by £35 for singles and £66 for couples. The number of people in Brighton and Hove on Universal Credit is higher than the mean of UK local authorities, with 25,649 people in the area claiming in July 2023.
How many groups are providing food to people in the city? There's an Emergency Food Network in the city, comprising of 51 active groups. Fewer than half have sufficient funding for the next year. They reported spending a total of £821,600 a year on food, a 59% increase on 2022.
How frequented are they? In one week, more than 6,400 people used their services. There was an increase in people with mental health issues, people in work, and refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.
Who else uses emergency food services? Looking at a week in July-August 2023, around 8oo service users were pensioners (a rise of 34% on 2022), 3,700 were adults (a 40% rise), and 1,880 were children (a 28% rise).
The average proportion of people using services indefinitely has risen from 52% in 2022 to 65% in 2023.
What were the main reasons they were being used? Low income, the cost of living, and ill health and disability.
How has emergency food provision changed over the years? In 2013, there were six food banks in the city. That number has gone up every year since, lots in response to the pandemic, and they have since either closed or adapted to address different needs. Emergency food support is now not just food banks: it's food vouchers, affordable food projects, community meals, pantries, vegetable boxes, lunch clubs, breakfast clubs, street kitchens, community cafes, surplus food distributors, meals on wheels, and more.
That's a lot! It is! They provide more too: clothing and school uniforms, community fridges, counselling services, free hygiene products, advice, safe spaces, warm spaces, and the like.
What do the projects need to keep helping people? We're so glad you've asked. The majority of projects reported spending more money on the same amount of food, with surplus food supplies dropping. Alongside this, they're struggling with food and financial donation levels dropping and being unable to buy in bulk in supermarkets. They've asked the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership to campaign on the following:
- Against the new normal of food insecurity
- Assistance with food sourcing - supply reliability, health and cost
- Local and national government support
What can I do to help? Donate food, money or time if you can. One fundraiser in particular we've seen doing the rounds is one for the Mutual Aid Vegan Foodbank, a project that has operated continuously since 2018, providing vegan food and toiletries to anyone needing them, no referrals needed.