An interview with Jenny Backwell

Jenny Backwell has lived in England since 1960. She is currently living in Hove, but has lived around the Brighton and Hove area for 40 years. Before moving to the area she lived in Plymouth, Argentina, Brazil, and Holland where she originally came from.

She is a frequent customer of the cafe and has been coming here since 1960. She used to work opposite the Royal Pavilion Gardens and would come to the cafe almost every lunch time. She has seen the cafe change a considerable amount since she first started coming here but has said that she will always see it as the same enjoyable place, and that she still loves coming here and seeing people she knows.

Jenny has worked housing the homeless for over twenty five years. When she first arrived in Brighton there was between fifty and sixty homeless people around. She founded The Brighton Housing Trust, and set up an advice centre in 1981 which immediately drew in a lot of people asking for support and help. At the time she started the rules were very different, only families would be able to get support through the housing trust. This left others either stranded or staying in cafe basements where beds would be set up and cost £35 a week, leading to people having to share rooms with complete strangers. Once it was all set up hardly any homeless people could be seen around the area. Sadly because of recent changes the number of homeless people is rapidly increasing.

Jenny was then given a job by the council where she started an addiction centre for people to come and seek help. When she started she was one of a few employees but managed to increase the staff number to over two hundred people.