In 2017 Bristol City Council and key partners successfully prevented 4,486 households from becoming homeless.
And now, as a range of organisations and charities working to tackle homelessness in the city join forces yet again, the council and its partners want to make people aware of the support available to them and encourage those who think they might be in trouble to seek early advice before they reach crisis point.
Bristol Homelessness Awareness Week (February 24- 3 March) aims to raise awareness of homelessness, those at risk of becoming homeless and the issues facing rough sleepers - highlighting the long process of recovery.
This year the specific focus is again on help and early intervention. The aim is to encourage people to look out for each other, spot the early warning signs and take action.
Rough sleeping is not the only form of homelessness and the organisations involved are trying to do more to prevent all forms of homelessness by early intervention with those at risk.
There is a whole range of services available to help those worried about losing their home – but it is vital to make people aware that it is important to act before it is too late.
Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees said: “Homelessness is not acceptable. It is a complex problem without one clear solution, but as well as tackling homelessness, it’s important we focus on preventing it happening in the first place.
“There are a lot of support and advice services available, and we are working closely with the community and voluntary sector to try and stop people falling through the gaps.
“The support will be personal and positive and focus on relationships, benefit issues, helping people in to work and clear pathways to settled accommodation.
“Homelessness can affect anyone. If you think that you, or anyone you know, could be at risk of losing their home, then please take action before you reach crisis point.”
The Bristol Homelessness Prevention Trailblazer services focus on early intervention with the aim of preventing people becoming homeless. Trailblazer services are focused on households with complex needs, income and benefits issues and those in properties with high rents. This focus reflects the realities of the impact of welfare reform on homelessness.
Homelessness can be caused by a wide range of factors and the early signs include:
1) Your landlord saying that they are going to put the rent up to a price you don’t think you can afford.
2) The people you are living with have asked you to leave.
3) Your relationship is breaking down.
4) You are experiencing domestic violence or abuse and need to move.
5) You have lost your job or are affected by issues around welfare reform, for example the benefit cap, and are having difficulty in paying your rent.
The council and partner agencies can help people resolve many of these underlying issues and work with people to help them keep a roof over their head. The team will always try to help people stay in their existing home, but if this is not possible they will advise people how to find new accommodation. This can include help with rent in advance and a deposit bond to help access private rented sector accommodation.
For information and advice go to www.bristol.gov.uk/homeless or telephone 0117 352 6800.
What can we do as a community?
If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping ANYONE can make a street referral via Streetlink.org.uk giving the following information:
o the rough sleeper’s name (if known)
o physical description
o any distinguishing characteristics (e.g. colour of distinctive clothing/possessions/sleeping bag or distinctive accent)
o specific location where the person is sleeping
o Time they were seen
Safer off the Streets (#SOSBristol): The four charities that provide night shelters to support rough sleepers have come together to set up a single, online crowdfunding appeal that offers people the chance to donate a specific sum - £17 – to provide one bed for one night to a homeless person. https://www.fundsurfer.com/project/bristol-rough-sleeping-partnership
There are three contactless donation stations in the City; one outside Tesco metro and Primark in Broadmead and a third at Bristol Energy hub on the Waterfront. You can donate £2 direct to the city night shelters.
None of our night shelters can operate without the dedication of volunteers, and in Bristol, helping the homeless by giving up a night a week or a night a month is the best way. You can contact the charities directly:
·Julian Trust: telephone 0117 924 4604 http://juliantrust.org.uk/
·Crisis Centre Ministries: telephone 0117 330 1230 https://crisis-centre.org.uk/
·Caring in Bristol telephone 0117 9244 444 http://caringinbristol.co.uk/