Collaboration in a time of crisis: thanksNHS-Ibolya Feher-PictureAid

18 May 2020

Collaboration in a time of crisis

Bristol Vehicles for Change and Bristol City Council have set up two temporary sites for vehicle dwellers to safely self-isolate

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Bristol Vehicles for Change and Bristol City Council have set up two new temporary sites for vehicle dwellers in Bristol.

The sites in Sea Mills and Hengrove, which are being co-managed by community-led social enterprise Bristol Vehicles for Change and Bristol City Council housing teams, offer people access to a safe living space during the outbreak and access to vital facilities.

Cllr Paul Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing, said:

“At a time of crisis, it’s important that we don’t leave pockets of communities behind. Just a few weeks after the introduction of movement restrictions, we opened two temporary sites for our vehicle dwelling community.

“The development of the temporary sites for vehicle dwellers would not have been so successful without the involvement of Bristol Vehicles for Change. The team have worked with the city to develop site license conditions, promote access to the site through their community networks and have helped to co-manage the facilities with our staff.

“I’m really proud of the work both organisations have done to make sure that vehicle dwellers have a safe space to live and access basic necessities during this unprecedented time.”

A spokesperson for Bristol Vehicles for Change said:

“We welcome the innovative and collaborative approach Bristol City Council has taken to developing the sites. This collaboration has allowed sites to be set up rapidly and then co-managed effectively in a time of crisis.

“A community-led approach has been adopted when developing site rules and plans via community feedback. A high degree of self-organisation has taken place onsite, within the parameters of essential Covid-19 guidelines and other legislation.”

Temporary site, credit: Ibolya Feher, PictureAid

Arran, who is using one of the temporary sites, said:

“Being born in a horse drawn wagon and living in vehicles throughout my life, finding amenities hasn’t always been easy but as gyms and other facilities closed in response to the pandemic, it became harder to find facilities. This meant facing leaving my job as a key worker (providing washing facilities to the Bristol area) for fear of not being able to effectively quarantine myself.

“Now, as a family member of mine is hospitalised with Covid-19, I cannot express how immeasurably thankful I am for the safety to know, whatever happens, me and my home are safe while we face the ongoing pandemic.”

Sam, another occupant at a temporary site, said:

“Most people living in vans are working professionals like myself. Being an NHS key worker I want to be part of a safe community with the essentials; being able to shower and have access to water. The Council has been amazing, caring and acted in such a fast response. It’s helped to truly build a rapport and show them our way of life.”

These sites have been provided to make sure vehicle dwelling communities’ varying and diverse needs are met.

While many vehicle dwellers are safely self-isolating in their normal locations, others have found it more difficult to access necessities such as water, showers and waste facilities. Gyms, friends’ houses and work places are not currently an option due to restrictions around coronavirus.

The two sites offer 25 safely distanced pitches respectively. Both sites are equipped with temporary toilets, showers, access to clean drinking water and waste disposal facilities.

Extra precautions are being taken to disinfect shared spaces to ensure the spread of the virus is minimised.

For more information about the two temporary sites, please visit: https://vehiclesforchange.co.uk/temporary-sites/