Before winter sets in, we wanted to share an insight into our busy summer period. It’s been a time of positive change and growth for Caring in Bristol.
New CEO Ian Byworth is now hard at work steering the organisation after quickly getting to grips with our portfolio of work. We’re already benefiting from his extensive experience in the homelessness, housing, and voluntary sector, and we’re actively thinking about the potential of future responses to solve homelessness in Bristol.
Imminent youth shelter
Many of you kindly supported our appeal to help establish Bristol’s only dedicated youth shelter. We’re excited to tell you that this is now all systems go! Supported by our donors, funding is in place, planning consent is secured, and the hard hats are going on. We expect to be launching the shelter early in 2024; in the meantime, supported by our Youth Board’s perspective, our Project Z youth team has been putting everything in place. Volunteers, a vital part of Caring in Bristol, have been stepping forwards for training, and our vision for this new service is materialising day by day. It’s a tremendous amount of work, but we know this shelter is desperately needed to turn the lives around of young people who are pushed out onto the streets in a homelessness crisis.
Behind this hive of activity, the Project Z team continue their work supporting young people to recover from the impact of homelessness and build a strong future. Their work, built on trusted working relationships with young people, is in demand. With a new worker starting shortly, their capacity will increase to enable more vulnerable young people move away from a homelessness. It was great to see existing young people in Project Z take part in the recruitment process too, as well as helping us deliver “The Grit Awards” at Bristol Pride – another exceptionally popular interactive event raising awareness of housing insecurity.
Moving away from homelessness reminds us all that homelessness is not inevitable, and action against it means much costly distress and devastation is avoided. Our Early Doors project finds ways to prevent homelessness as soon as possible. The team, along with colleagues from Housing Matters and Shelter Bristol have been delivering weekly drop-in advice sessions in South Bristol since the spring. The team are skilled at recognizing the often-subtle things that could contribute to a housing crisis, and then planning with individuals to take preventative measures. Their work has continued with community-based co-production groups in Bristol where residents explore solutions to housing issues. They’ve also supported individuals to act against problematic housing issues; for example, having a successful impact on cases pushing back against Section 21 evictions and their questionable usage.
Support where it’s needed
Caring in Bristol, and colleagues across the homelessness sector, have all identified how the cost-of-living crisis has deepened the housing crisis – massive waiting lists, rising rents and mortgages have made homes even less affordable, and reduced availability and choice. Our Bristol Goods project set up its fourth pop-up food store over the summer. Reducing food costs is another way to move people away from homelessness, and help those recovering from it to rebuild the foundations of a home. The clubs are not just about food. Each session is a point of contact to find support, information and advice about the housing issues that become a problem if left untackled. Often working alongside Early Doors, Bristol Goods is always on the ground, working at the heart of communities who otherwise might struggle to find these forms of specialist support – all year round.
Increasing our capacity
With all the additional work, we’ve been glad to welcome new members to the Caring in Bristol team. Cara and Jake have joined Bristol Goods to help meet the demand, and take the food and support to where its needed. Karen has joined Early Doors, bringing with her valuable insights into issues faced by residents in parts of south Bristol. Over the summer she’s been out and about at various community events, and through many conversations helping us to learn more about what is needed and connecting people with valuable support and information. Through these connections, we’ll be delivering bespoke sessions to groups of people who are disproportionately impacted by homelessness.
We’ve said many times how our amazing volunteers help our work to go further and make a deeper impact. Caroline has recently joined the team as our Volunteer Coordinator, and this specialist role will make a huge difference in enhancing the experience of our volunteers. All of this is just a small insight into the many pieces of work that the team have delivered throughout Bristol. There’s no time to rest as our work is needed more than ever. As the seasons turn, we’re approaching our winter work with determination and a focus on solutions. Of course, you’ll soon be hearing about our Caring at Christmas project, featuring Bristol’s Big Christmas Dinner, and updates about our youth shelter. And for our supporters in the new year, we’ll be launching a new website that’s easier to use and more accessible, with brand new content to help you stay in touch with our work… and the impact that your support makes. Thank you!
If you’d like to join our much-appreciated supporters who back our life changing work, you can donate here.