Lewes District Churches





‘Helping People into Housing’

The History of HOMELINK


In the early 1990s there seemed to be a sudden increase in visible homelessness and in 1991 the ecumenical CNHC (Churches National Housing Coalition) was formed nationally.

In Lewes District, a handful of people formed a local Action Group, chaired by the Revd Jim Cooper from Seaford.

The Action Group became aware of invisible homeless people who needed help because they fell through the net of statutory provision: they didn't qualify for help from the Council, had no savings and no home; they were often sofa surfing or sleeping in cars.


A Rent Deposit scheme was needed. So the Churches Together groups of Lewes, Newhaven and Seaford were contacted in 1996, and a meeting was held in Lewes.

Out of that meeting came a feasibility study, and Peter Mettyear of the Mettyear Trust, offered vital financial underpinning for a Rent Deposit guarantee scheme. The feasibility study reported back positively, a steering group was set up and ...


HOMELINK was launched in Dec. 1997, in Newhaven, at the Sacred Heart church.

  • HOMELINK's official birthday is Feb. 1998 when it got charitable status.
  • The first Co-ordinator, Anna Dawney of St Anne's, in Lewes was appointed.
  • The District Council (LDC) helped Ann Cross to set up the administrative structures, to mirror the LDC scheme.
  • The House of Friendship in Lewes offered free use of their office.
  • Many people signed up to underwrite rent in advance and damage deposits, which were given as guarantees to landlords.
  • In 1998, the first tenant moved in and, with ups and downs, after a slow start, HOMELINK has kept going, helping more and more people.

    The Loan Scheme was set up in 2005, to replace guarantees, mirroring the LDC scheme. HOMELINK provides an interest-free loan for the sum needed for rent in advance and damage deposit, as a cheque to the landlord. The tenant repays HOMELINK over a manageable time span, at a manageable rate, always with no interest charged.


    In 2009, HOMELINK extended the loan scheme to cover mentored ex-offenders on their release from Lewes prison.


    HOMELINK was just settling into equilibrium with income and loans when the financial crisis struck and applications for loans rocketed in 2010. Hence the need to raise our profile, in order to avoid turning away, for lack of funds, people who desperately need help.


    HOMELINK has now helped over 700 people into accommodation; and it has a part-time paid Service Manager, working 21 hours per week, whose salary is funded by grants and a legacy from a kind donor. But all else is done by volunteers, who interview applicants, raise funds and help in the office.

    HOMELINK works in partnership or association with other organisations:

    There is likely to be another big increase in people seeking help when Universal Credit comes to the Lewes area.