28 Sep 2016

Mayoral & Vision

One-city approach to tackle homelessness as new City Office launches in Bristol

Embargoed until 00:00 Thursday 29 Sept 2016

Media Opportunities

Launch of Bristol City Office

11:30am City Hall

Interviews with Mayor and key partners available. Cameras welcome to film introduction to meeting at 12 noon.

Bristol Street Aware Launch

3pm Marks & Spencer, Broadmead. Sign in at Top Floor Service Desk

Interviews with Cllr Paul Smith, M&S Manager Rob Bailey, St Mungo’s Manager David Ingerslev and Matt who has lived experience of rough sleeping

Please confirm your attendance for either event to Kirsty Stilwell, Bristol City Council Public Relations Officer, Kirsty.stilwell@bristol.gov.uk.   

The launch of Bristol’s new City Office will form part of a day of action to tackle homelessness in Bristol tomorrow, Thursday 29 September, marking a new citywide approach to the issue.

The day will start with a closed breakfast discussion, hosted by Golden Key, to gather ideas from a range of experts and interested parties on how to tackle the current situation of vulnerable people becoming homeless.

Attendees at the event will hear from a panel of speakers including Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, Matt Griffith, Director of Policy at Business West , Professor Alex Marsh, Bristol University and  Golden Key Partnership Board member, Adam Rees  (St Mungo’s Regional Director ). Darren Nuttall, a member of Golden Key’s advisory group Independent Futures, will also share his experiences with the group. Attendees will also have an opportunity to share their ideas on how to make this change happen.

Recommendations gathered at the event will be fed back that afternoon to a meeting of the new City Office, a citywide partnership spearheaded by Mayor Marvin Rees. Bringing together key agencies and prominent figures in city leadership, the City Office will help formally join up activities and city policies as Bristol works more closely together on major issues.

Among those on-board are the city council, Avon and Somerset Police, Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group, Voscur, Bristol Multi Faith Forum, both of Bristol’s Universities, Bristol Drugs Project, the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Initiative, Destination Bristol, Crisis Centre Ministries, Bristol Health Partners and Business West.

Homelessness will be the first big issue to be addressed by the City Office, working alongside the Rough Sleeping Partnership led by St Mungo’s, Golden Key and other homelessness agencies. Together the group will be responsible for a mix of short term and long terms solutions to help people off the streets and prevent homelessness occurring. A public statement of intent will be released by Golden Key as soon as possible after the day’s activities.

Marvin Rees, Bristol Mayor, said: “We are committed to reducing rough sleeping and all forms of homelessness, but as with many issues we cannot solve this problem alone. There are already considerable partnership efforts directed to this, but I believe that the new City Office will play a crucial role in getting things done and uniting Bristol’s various institutions around a shared goal.

“Together we can bring greater momentum and resource, working as a whole greater than the sum of its parts. From my promise to build 2,000 more homes per year by 2020 to fast action to address rough sleeping, the City Office will have an important role to play alongside lots of other partners.

“Following closely on from our Big Housing Conversation, which gave tenants from across the city the chance to have their say on Bristol’s housing issues, today’s events will bring together the people who can make a difference and offer support to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“We are looking to create a one-city approach to tackling homelessness, to make sure that everyone gets the support they need, and no one slips through the net.”

John Simpson, Independent Chair of the Golden Key Partnership Board, said: “We need to take a radical approach to eliminating homelessness and rough sleeping in Bristol.  It is unacceptable that some of our city’s most vulnerable citizens don’t have anywhere to call home.

“This housing crisis is keeping hundreds of people locked in a cycle of dependency and deprivation.  A safe place to call home is a basic human right, without it you have no security and it is very hard to access much needed support – hence the cycle continues.  This cycle comes at a huge cost, both to the individual and society as a whole.

“The Golden Key Partnership is committed to inspiring change in Bristol but we can’t do it alone.  We will work actively with the Mayor and others, for example through the Rough Sleeping Partnership. We hope today’s events will be a catalyst to creating a new Bristol where people with complex needs find the housing and support they need.”

Then later that day, Bristol’s Rough Sleeping Partnership (RSP) will launch Bristol Street Aware - an initiative aimed at engaging local businesses to help signpost people sleeping rough to the services available to them.

Marks & Spencer, Tesco and the Watershed have already committed to the initiative and the launch will encourage more businesses in the city to sign up to the RSP principles.

Robert Bailey, Marks & Spencer’s Store Manager, will open the event, with guest speaker Councillor Paul Smith, cabinet member for homes and communities at Bristol City Council. David Ingerslev, St Mungo’s Service Manager, will run a short presentation and St Mungo’s client volunteer Matthew will talk about his personal experience of rough sleeping.

Rob Bailey said: “We’re really proud to be the first business to sign up to Street Aware. As demonstrated through our Spark Something Good commitments, we really care about our local community and we are committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for our customers.

“By working with the Rough Sleeping Partnership we can do our bit and give our colleagues the skills they need to help signpost local rough sleepers to support services.”

Adam Rees, St Mungo’s Regional Manager, said: “It is fantastic to see the city coming together to tackle the issues of rough sleeping. By pooling our skills, resources and expertise, the Rough Sleeping Partnership has already provided  50 extra bed spaces, with more to follow.

"We have opened two night shelters and a number of ‘guardianship’ schemes where we use disused council buildings to temporarily house people. No one should sleep rough, everyone deserves a place to call home.”

Notes to editors:

  • The City Office will bring together key agencies and prominent figures in city leadership to help formally join up activities and city policies as Bristol works more closely together on major issues.
  • Golden Key is a citywide partnership, inspiring change in Bristol.  Funded by the Big Lottery, and led by mental health charity Second Step, the eight year, £10 million year programme will open doors and unlock services, creating new futures for those with the most complex needs. For more information on Golden Key visit www.goldenkeybristol.org.uk  Follow us on Twitter at @GoldKeyBristol - join the #nomore call to action by tweeting your ideas on how to end homelessness.
  • The Rough Sleeping Partnership, designed to reduce and prevent homelessness, was set up by Bristol City Council in December 2015. The partnership is led by St Mungo’s and includes the Golden Key Programme, Avon and Somerset Police, Destination Bristol, Julian Trust Crisis Centre Ministries and the council.
  • Golden Key’s role is develop and deliver long-term systemic change, so that we permanently eliminate the revolving door for the most vulnerable. Whereas the Rough Sleeping Partnership is concerned with short-term measures to help people off the streets regardless of how they got there.
  • A guardianship scheme is where a disused building is brought into temporary housing use, in this case for homeless people, pending redevelopment and thus avoiding a wasted resource and saving on security costs. These can be managed by commercial guardianship companies, or as in these cases, by not-for-profit organisations.
  • The number of people rough sleeping in Bristol has increased. Official figures peaked at 97, following the official annual street count in November 2015. This is an increase from 41 rough sleepers (on any one night) in 2014 and less than 10 in 2012 (on any one night).
  • For more information on rough sleeping and services available in Bristol please visit http://www.mungos.org/bristol or https://www.bristol.gov.uk/housing/homeless-or-at-risk-of-being-homeless
  • If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping ANYONE can make a street referral via Streetlink.org.uk