This is not a homelessness intervention, it’s a humanitarian intervention. Moving people into hotel rooms is not ending homelessness in Bristol, it’s a temporary and very imperfect sticky plaster. A real homelessness intervention would start with asking people what they actually need or want, and look at ways of supporting that, so please don’t be confused and think homelessness is history in our city.
The rhetoric that everyone will be moved off the streets from central government is not helpful. It’s established expectations with vulnerable people on the streets and their supporters that a hotel room is imminent, where in fact some people on the streets require much higher support and appropriate hostel accommodation with 24 hour staffing. This hostel accommodation is not available until significant numbers of existing people can be moved out of these beds into the private rental sector, which in itself requires a huge degree of collaboration between Bristol City Council and various housing bodies, not to mention the recruitment of a significant number of new private rental landlords, all of which takes time.
People are also becoming newly homeless throughout this crisis, via loss of jobs and private rental tenancies, family breakdown and domestic violence, early prison release, and a whole host of other drivers.
Caring in Bristol has responded to this in the only way we know, jumping into the middle of it, working out where the gaps are, talking to everyone, and sharing our understandings and our commitment to create change. We set up our Cheers Drive project in a number of days, which thanks to our brilliant network of chefs and volunteers and ever flexible staff team delivers over 350 meal packs a day, seven days a week, (containing breakfast, lunch and dinner) to hotels, hostels and other accommodation where people cannot cook, access food, or need to self-isolate. We’ve also pulled up our sleeves and are now working with Feed the Homeless, Roots, Bosh, the Julian Trust and the Methodist Centre to deliver a single point of food provision for the streets, the same time, the same place, every day of the week.
I’m so very grateful for everyone who has been supporting us so far. We’re in for the long-run, but this unfortunately still feels just the end of the beginning. Stay posted.
Visit www.caringinbristol.co.uk/donate to leave your gift and make a difference to someone in your community during this crisis.
Thank you for your continued support