January 2021: an update from charity director Ben Richardson

As we begin the new year entering another national lockdown, the current circumstances we face as a city are particularly challenging for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Covid-19 means that shelters are still unable to operate safely. Sub-zero night time temperatures are dangerous for people who are rough sleeping, and whilst the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol is currently in effect until January 9th – guaranteeing everyone who is rough sleeping can immediately access accommodation for this period- SWEP is only a temporary measure. Whilst SWEP is in action we wholeheartedly encourage people to call the number available to get people off the street.

The economic strain of the pandemic will be compounded by the end of the eviction ban on January 11th, this will heighten the risk of homelessness for many individuals and families. Furthermore, Universal Credit payments will be reduced by £20 per week at the start of April which will leave people stretched even further.

“We need to treat people as individuals, put their needs first and create sustainable housing options on a person-by-person basis.”

With news this week that ‘Everyone In’ is not to be continued, we want to communicate to our supporters that Caring in Bristol is working tirelessly alongside partners in Bristol to continue to support people in a variety of different ways. The city continues to work together to get everyone an accommodation offer who would otherwise be sleeping rough. We believe there is an opportunity now to commit to, and campaign for, finding people more personalised accommodation options, that suit their individual needs.

What Everyone In and closing dormitory style shelters has shown Bristol is that we can no longer hide people away in the hope that putting a temporary roof over their head will allow them to flourish. We need to treat people as individuals, put their needs first and create sustainable housing options on a person-by-person basis. We need more housing and support for people in that housing. We will be fighting for this.

Our food delivery project Cheers Drive is now entering its tenth month in operation, with over 150,000 meals delivered to date to people in temporary accommodation across the city. We are currently supporting 170 people via the scheme, delivering 970 meals and 25 food parcels each week. We are expecting this to rise as the lockdown makes it more difficult for people to access good-quality, healthy food.

“Caring in Bristol will always be here for the people in our city who need us.”

Our Youth Team are now working remotely to give support to young people at risk of homelessness and will accept new referrals throughout the lockdown. Our Nightstop team continues to seek ways in which the scheme can operate safely to offer spaces to people aged 18- 25 with trained and qualified hosts. We will be launching a big update soon on our commitment to supporting youth homelessness in Bristol as we have big plans.

We want to assure you that Caring in Bristol will always be here for the people in our city who need us.

– Ben Richardson, Director of Caring in Bristol

 

Sign the Shelter petition calling for protection for renters, people sleeping rough, and an end to the benefits cap here. If you want to support our work you can donate here and register as a volunteer here.

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