Open letter to Thangam Debbonaire

Dear Thangam Debbonaire

Re: Creating a city empowered to solve homelessness.

Congratulations on becoming the new Shadow Housing Secretary, as we are situated in and around St Paul’s you are also our local MP for Bristol West, and we wanted to be one of the first charities to openly congratulate you and invite you to hear about our work in Bristol. I also wanted to draw your attention to how the COVID19 crisis has affected those experiencing homelessness in your constituency and in the UK.

The people who are and who will continue to be impacted the most by this pandemic are on low-incomes, no incomes, in poverty, unhoused, incarcerated, and in many cases suffering from complex childhood trauma. People experiencing homelessness, particularly those rough sleeping, are amongst the most exposed and at risk to the coronavirus, not only because they do not have a safe home to self-isolate but because they are three times more likely to experience a chronic health condition than you, or I.

Covid-19 has presented Caring in Bristol and the city with many challenges. But providing immediate and adequate shelter and food to everyone shouldn’t be a given, but a right that needs to be honoured and supported.

This crisis has made it clear that we cannot and will-not be able to solve homelessness in Bristol or meet the city’s needs with our current structure of working. It is important that as a city, and as a country, we immediately start working on a plan for housing and supporting those in need after the crisis. We cannot house people in hotels for three months and then wave them back on to the street. This pandemic has also made us rethink our city support structure and how we have, as charities, action groups and local government all so often worked separate from one another and we need to ensure the community collaboration and strong partnerships that have grown out of this crisis remain intact throughout, and afterwards as a way of solving homelessness in Bristol.

As a charity Caring in Bristol want to work with our local council and government, community partners and members and will commit to expanding our support, empowering our city to act, providing live information, and rising to meet the needs of those who are so often forgotten.

We look forward to working with you to achieve this and we invite anyone who reads this letter who wants to be a part of an effective movement after COVID19 to get in touch with us,

This city can – work together to solve homelessness.

Ben Richardson

Caring in Bristol Director
#BristolCares

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