17 Feb 2016

Housing and Planning

Bristol Homelessness Awareness Week

Bristol Homelessness Awareness Week

Photographers / camera crews and reporters are invited to attend the art exhibition that marks the start of the week.

Saturday 20 February, 12pm-4pm. The exhibition will open at 11.45am for a special media preview and interview opportunities with artists.

St Mungo’s,
1 New St, Bristol BS2 9DX

We have a range of case studies available throughout the week – see notes to editors for more information.

A range of organisations and charities working to tackle homelessness in the city will be joining forces next week to help highlight the issues faced by people without a home to call their own.

The Bristol Homelessness Awareness Week (February 20-26) has been set up to raise awareness of homelessness, those at risk of becoming homeless and the issues facing rough sleepers.

The week will get underway with an art exhibition featuring contributions from St Mungo’s and the Big Issue.

There will be a mixture of fine art, mixed media, photography and sculpture on display and all work will either be produced by clients or document the client experience.

Simon Dyer, Deputy Manager at St Mungo’s said: “Attending our art workshops at the Recovery College allows our clients the space to explore personal interests and helps to support them to build confidence and social networks. All of this provides a solid basis for a sustained recovery.

“Art forms an important role in recovery. Having a creative outlet, learning new skills and having a regular workshop to attend all helps to build routine in what may previously have been a chaotic lifestyle.

“It also acts as a reminder to everyone that beneath the statistic of the homeless person, there is an individual with their own talent and expression.”

During the week itself a number of the council’s partners will be opening their doors to the general public to provide the opportunity to understand the range of support and services available to homeless people and those at risk of homelessness.

Organisations including the Spring of Hope, the Julian Trust, Julian House, Golden Key and Caring in Bristol will all be offering a chance to see behind the scenes on different days of the week.

There will also be an information and advice stall at the Bearpit on Saturday 20 and Wednesday 24 February. People can come along and find out where to get advice, what volunteering opportunities are available and learn how to use Streetlink to make sure outreach services are made aware of rough sleepers.

The week will culminate in the annual sponsored Sleep Out, which is being organised by the Bristol Homeless Forum.

More than 200 people are expected to take part in the event at the Pip ‘n Jay Church from 10pm on Friday February 26.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Homelessness is growing across the UK as a result of a number of factors, and the high number of rough sleepers in Bristol has become one of our most pressing concerns.

“People who are sleeping rough or ’sofa-surfing' face daily problems that are difficult to understand for those with more comfortable lives.

“I shall be joining ‘Sleep Out 16’ on February 26. I have been taking part in this annual winter sleep out for a number of years, partly out of empathy but principally to help raise awareness and funds.

“We must all come together to tackle this growing challenge. There is help out there from a range of organisations, so if you know anyone you think is at risk, make sure they seek advice and support as soon as possible.

“We have a duty to help all those struggling to keep a roof over their heads get their lives back on track, and I am grateful to our many partners in helping us to try and tackle this crisis."

In 2015 5,600 households in Bristol became homeless or were threatened with homelessness. One of the main causes of homelessness is private sector tenancies ending.

There is a whole range of services available to help people worried about losing their home – but one of the key messages of the week is to make people aware that it is important to act before it is too late.

Councillor Brenda Massey, Assistant Mayor for People, said: “Bristol City Council funds a range of services to prevent homelessness, or to help people recover from homelessness, so I would urge everyone to get advice and support as soon as they can.

“One of the main problems is that too many people end up homeless in Bristol when it could have been prevented. If people ask for help early, one of the many organisations working to end homelessness in the city can often intervene and keep a roof over someone’s head.”

Further details about the sleep-out can be found at http://bristolhf.org.uk/home-page/bhf-sleepout-2016/

Further information about the help available for anyone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless is available at the council’s website at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/homeless

Notes to Editors

  • We have a range of case studies available throughout the week. Please contact Kirsty Stilwell for more information kirsty.stilwell@bristol.gov.uk or 0117 3525633.
  • The art exhibition will take place at St Mungo’s New Street between 12pm-4pm.  Media interviews will be available on the day.
  • To find out more about the awareness week and the range of services available to help those who find themselves at risk visit www.bristol.gov.uk/homelessweek 
  • To report someone sleeping rough in Bristol you can use Streetlink. StreetLink is England’s only phone-line, website and mobile app that allows members of the public to send an alert when they see someone sleeping rough and connect them to local services. Call 0300 500 0914, visit www.streetlink.org.uk or download the app for Apple and Android devices.     
  • More temporary accommodation for homeless people is opening up in the city thanks to the new rough sleeping task group. The group, set up by Mayor George Ferguson, is working hard to address the problem of street homelessness in the city. Before Christmas it was announced that 20 extra beds were being provided in conjunction with St Mungo’s. In conjunction with a faith based organisation in the city a new central 15 bed shelter is being opened at the start of February. There is also an agreement in place to use two currently empty buildings to provide up to 10 additional longer-term beds for the next 12 months.  The multi-agency Rough Sleeping Task Group is being led by St Mungo's and includes the council, other partners, faith groups, and the police.
  • To help make these new shelters a success, people are needed to help staff the centres, and St Mungo’s is appealing for volunteers who can offer to help out overnight on a regular basis or as extra cover during cold weather. Training will be provided. If you would like to get involved and are interesting in volunteering with St Mungo’s you should email bristolshelter@mungos.org
  • The city council has a statutory duty to meet the needs of homeless people who meet the criteria set out in the Housing Act 1996, as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002. Their needs are assessed and we then deliver a housing solution or advise the household that we do not have a duty to house them. In the latter case we will always signpost to other housing options e.g. advising the person how to go about finding private rented accommodation.
  • The most common reasons for people becoming homeless in Bristol in the 3 months to 310/1209/145 were :
    • Termination of assured shorthold tenancy;
    • Parents not willing or able to accommodate;
    • Other relatives/friends not willing to accommodate;
    • Violent breakdown of relationship involving partner.
  • The city council is one of a number of partners in the city working to prevent homelessness by working with vulnerable single people and families who are at risk before they become homeless. In 2015 we collectively prevented almost 4,500 households from becoming homeless. 

Partners in the Homelessness Awareness Week

  • The Julian Trust has been running an emergency night shelter for homeless people in Bristol since 1986 and the need for their services has never been greater. Throughout the year on five nights a week they provide hot meals for up to 90 guests and overnight accommodation for 18. This service is run entirely by volunteers and funded by donations. To find out more go to www.juliantrust.org.uk  
  • Bristol Nightstop provides free help and advice to young people aged 16 to 25 who are homeless or staying in unsafe places. They arrange temporary and emergency accommodation for 18-25 year olds in the homes of trained and vetted volunteers. Their accommodation service is available seven days a week and referral hours are 10am- 4.30pm Mon- Fri. www.bristolnightstop.org
  • Bristol Citizens Advice Bureau provides free, confidential and impartial advice to people experiencing problems with their housing.  For more information please visit www.bristolcab.org.uk or follow @cabbristol
  • The Big Issue Foundation is a financially independent charity. They believe in a ‘hand up and not a hand out’ and recognise that earning an income is a key step in a person’s journey towards stability and a better life. The Big Issue offers the incentive of earning an income; it means that they engage with a number of individuals who are not seen by other services or projects.
  • 1625 Independent People supports homeless 16-25 year olds in the South West to live independently through housing, skills, confidence building, education, training and jobs. To find out more go to www.1625ip.co.uk
  • Leading mental health charity Second Step provides support, housing and hope for hundreds of people in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset. Visit http://www.second-step.co.uk/ for more information.
  • St Mungo’s manages outreach services to help people sleeping rough in Bristol, as well as hostels across the city and services to help people recover from homelessness for good. These include the pioneering Recovery College at the Compass Centre in Stokes Croft, where people can also access skills, activities and into work services. Visit www.mungos.org for more information.
  • The Emmaus community in Bristol opened in 2003 and now operates a residential community of 23 former homeless men and women and a recycling/reuse business.