Among the many people and organisations that have stepped up during the current pandemic, Surviving the Streets is at the forefront. With a policy of action first and talk later, they were able to organise support for the vulnerable from the beginning of the lockdown. 

As James Robinson, co-founder and director of Surviving the Streets, says: “Before the local council and groups sorted things out, we were already three weeks in: I had elderly people passing out on their doorstep due to no food.”

They distributed flyers promoting their phone service and online support to make sure people got the help they needed. “We only aimed to help people in St Leonards but ended up helping many people all over the town that could not get out,” James explained. “We even had to extend our homeless support outreach nights due to other charities having to shut.”

And they’re still busy distributing food. Every day the team is out supplying to the elderly and vulnerable who have been self-isolating in and around Hastings and have been in contact online or by phone. “Our team have been flat out since before this Covid-19 virus started and now with much more added pressure, they cover up to 7,000 meals of food a week to help as many people as we can,” James says. 

Sunday is one of their busiest days: “The first thing we do is drop off food all over Hastings and St Leonards … then we open our food bank to the public to help anyone that needs our support in the Hollington area of St Leonards till 12pm.”

While all this is happening, another team is arranging food packs up to seven days a week for the outreach teams that go out at 6pm in Hastings and one day a week at 7pm in Eastbourne on a Sunday. These days there are fewer homeless on the streets but plenty who are now in temporary accommodation but have no food. 

James explains that they are able to distribute thousands of meals worth of food every week on a small budget by making use of the tons of food that would otherwise go to waste. “We have been collecting food from all over East Sussex to get food to bring back to Hastings and help keep our community fed.”

He points out that they have no funding from government or local councils but are very thankful for the kind support they’ve have been given. He is very proud of his amazing team and the support of so many people. “We thank you all so, so much.”

Kind donations would be much appreciated

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. You can also support local journalism by becoming a friend of HIP. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.