Making our short film to support Bristol’s Big Christmas Dinner was an opportunity for us to explore the different kinds of homelessness in our city, as well as conveying the impact that all our Caring at Christmas activities make. Working with the inspiring and creative team at Bristol’s Under The Wing Productions we told the story of four characters, played by staff and actors, whose circumstances had pushed them towards homelessness.
Rough sleeping is often the first form of homelessness that comes to mind for many people. This is a harsh and unacceptable experience for people to endure, and one of the film’s characters is experiencing this. The film also introduces people who live under the constant pressure of homelessness in other ways that are often invisible to the wider community.
We wanted to bring visibility to these experiences that members of the communities we live in are forced to endure. We meet a mum who has been forced to live in a car with her young child. It doesn’t take much to imagine how traumatising this must be, particularly when we consider the distress and disruption that may have led up to this point.
Sofa surfing, as it is often called, is also represented in our film. Official statistics, which record this as “Staying with family and friends,” don’t capture the true extent to which this is happening every single day in Bristol. Neither does it describe this precarious situation, which may include sleeping on the floor, having no access to cooking or bathroom facilities, and the anguish of not knowing how long a stay will last. For many, especially for some marginalized groups, this situation means constantly moving from one temporary place to another. A life with no certainty and little comfort.
Our Early Doors team, who work to prevent homelessness, are no strangers to the impact of evictions that leave tenants in a state of uncertainty with the clock ticking louder each day. One of our characters returns home to find an eviction notice has unexpectedly been served by their landlord – a moment which starts the countdown to homelessness unless support can be given.
This Christmas, like others, it’s inevitable we’ll hear stories like these. Bristol’s Big Christmas Dinner is there to provide a place at the table for people who are experiencing homelessness in its many forms. Whether you’re living on the streets, in a car, on someone else’s floor, or being taken away from you, the care and warmth that the Caring at Christmas project creates enables time to relax, feel valued and gather the much-needed reserves of energy to tackle the time ahead.
The film ends with a moment of community around a Christmas dinner table. The actual table for Bristol’s Big Christmas Dinner will be much bigger – last year we had over 540 guests. This reveals the scale and urgency of the need in our city. We hope the film shows how demonstrating that we are a city that cares can have an impact at what can be such a difficult and stressful time of year, even without the weight of homelessness pressing down.
If you share our vision of a Christmas that doesn’t leave homeless people out in the cold, please consider making a donation to help us make this a reality for hundreds of people over Christmas week.
Take a look at some of our behind the scenes shots from the filming – we’re grateful to Bianchi’s (Montpelier) for their incredible support and letting us start Christmas early (in September) for our filming!