A partnership that celebrates home, generosity and being yourself

Sussex Nightstop SLEEPSAFE fundraiser with the Artists Open Houses Festival

There are an unusual number of similarities between the Artists Open Houses Festival and youth homeless charity Sussex Nightstop.

Both with origins in the 1980’s, these two organisations have at their very heart a spirit to do things differently; open up homes and support young people with generosity.

The festival celebrated 40 years last year and artists involved from the start spoke of its uniqueness…welcoming strangers into their home to explore and discuss their art and tell their story. It also allowed them to be themselves, rather than the stereotypical character expected of an artist in a gallery. For students, it offered a rare opportunity to learn from successful artists, who responded with a natural generosity, keen to share their passion.

Going back to its roots, when the festival started in Fiveways, it was about breaking down elitism, creating an informal environment to tell their story and sell their work, whilst giving people an opportunity to explore local art. For people, it was a chance to see art in a different context to galleries and the festival grew in popularity, attracting visitors from Brighton, London (including famous faces like Richard Attenborough) and more. It quickly become an important part of Brighton Festival, as well as a popular event in its own right.

From a relatively small affair attracting 600 people over two weeks, it now hosts over 400,000 house visits among 200 locations in Brighton & Hove.

Nightstop was also a community response, started in Leeds to address homelessness by opening up volunteer homes to young people in need. It too started small, but has now become a national movement, with over 30 Nightstops providing over 9,000 safe nights of accommodation each year.

The Nightstop offer would not be possible without the kindness of its volunteers who, like the artists, open up their houses with a welcoming smile, a generous spirit and a good cup of tea! Recruited with care and trained robustly, they give young people in need the opportunity be themselves in a judgement-free environment. With around half of Sussex Nightstop’s young guests in education or work, they are unreflective of the stereotypical homeless person, personified by Brighton’s very visible rough sleeping population, with numbers second only to London. While Nightstop’s guests recuperate in host homes, a service co-ordinator connects them with local services and supports their journey into safe and suitable accommodation.

Sussex Nightstop celebrates 15 years of service to the Brighton & Hove community in 2023-2024. A small charity with a big impact, our service reminds people at the most desperate of times that people care, which builds confidence and belief – important ingredients in a young person’s ability to maintain the good stuff in their life, seize new opportunities and bring about positive change for themselves.

Our 15th anniversary fundraising campaign with Artists’ Open Houses will provide much needed funds and the more we raise, the greater impact our service can have on young lives. A fundraising appeal runs alongside the AOH Festival (6-28 May) and an online auction featuring works from participating artists runs 1-31 May. People can view the artworks at open houses and online, placing bids throughout the open period. Bidders will be notified if they are outbid – they can then choose to place another bid if they wish.

You can donate to our SLEEPSAFE fundraiser with AOH online or you can give by text using the numbers and reference below:

  • To donate £3, text ZZSAFE to 70331
  • To donate £5, text ZZSAFE to 70970
  • To donate £10, text ZZSAFE to 70191

Fundraising, payments and donations will be processed and administered by the National Funding Scheme, operating as DONATE, a charity registered in England and Wales (1149800) and Scotland (SC045106). In addition to any text donation, you will incur your standard network message charge (based on your service provider rates). For Terms & Conditions, see www.easydonate.org

You can bid for a piece of fabulous art from talented local artists at easydonate.org/AOH

A partnership with the artists Open Houses festival