Montreal Arms in Brighton to become housing for Ukrainian refugees Brighton News

A PUB owner who lived in a women’s shelter as a child said offering his house to house Ukrainian mothers and children would give him a pleasure he had ‘not experienced before’.

Some nine days after collecting the keys to the Montreal Arms in Albion Hill, Brighton, Charlie Southall decided to turn it into a free cohabitation space for Ukrainian women and children who fled the Russian invasion.

The 43-year-old has lived in Brighton for 15 years but grew up in poverty and spent a summer at a women’s shelter in Stafford when he was ten after his parents divorced.

The Argus: The Montreal Arms in Brighton was donated by its owner to Ukrainian refugeesThe coat of arms of Montreal in Brighton was donated by its owner to Ukrainian refugees

At the time, Charlie received help from the youth charity The Prince’s Trust, founded by the Prince of Wales, which he says was hugely influential in his decision to donate the building, as he knew the positive experience that a charitable intervention could have.

He said: “Although it sounds awful and of course there is an underlying crisis, I have very positive memories of that experience because it felt like a fresh start.”

“I have first-hand experience of how this co-living and peer support system can really help people in this situation… now I’m able to do something to help others, and you know what , it’s been one of the nicest things I’ve done lately.

The Argus: artist's impression of what the pub's living space could look like (Dragonfly video production)Artist’s impression of what the pub’s living space might look like (Dragonfly video production)

“I was watching the news and like all of us, I was very moved by the humanitarian crisis… it really affected me.

“(Donating the pub) woke me up and I’m enjoying it, it gives me a pleasure I’ve never experienced before and it’s a privileged position.”

The video production company owner has launched a GoFundMe page to raise £85,000 to pay for the renovations needed to turn the former pub into a usable living space.

Renovation plans include the creation of a kitchen, living space and children’s play area, using the open-plan layout on the ground floor of the building.

There are already six rooms on the upper floor which will be used as bedrooms.

Charlie said he would offer the pub for at least three years, to match the government’s refugee program for Ukraine which promises a three-year visa for refugees fleeing war.

His campaign also aims to collect donations from businesses, and he wants people to contribute and participate in the construction work.

He has been in talks with various charities to help with the property once it is up and running as a community space, including how to help with language barriers and mental health rehabilitation.

Charlie said he was moved by the support from the Brighton community and that people offered kitchen appliances and vans to help move supplies.

A woman, owner of a local pottery cafe, donated tiles that Ukrainian children could paint and decorate their rooms with.

To follow Mr. Southall’s fundraising efforts, visit

The Argous:

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This notice was published: 2022-03-17 15:47:37

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