Caring in Bristol started its journey as Caring at Christmas, and was formed in 1987 by members of the Julian Trust Charity in response to a particular gap for people experiencing homelessness during Christmas and the New Year. It opened that year in St. Thomas’ Church, with a 24 hour shelter that ran over the five day festive period. The project rapidly grew in size and popularity, and moved around from several different venues until finding a more secure home at Little Bishop Street, St Pauls, in 1996.
In the early 2000s, the charity expanded to develop an annual homeless survival guide to help guide volunteers and beneficiaries on where and how to find services across the city. By 2006 we were operating the Bristol Nightstop project to help find emergency accommodation in volunteer hosts’ homes for young people aged 18 – 25 who were facing homelessness.
In 2013 we changed our name to Caring in Bristol. This reflected our aspiration to make a bigger impact in the city all year round. Nightstop expanded its provision and in 2016 we took on the 365 Shelter to provide emergency night shelter support to people experiencing homelessness every night of the year.
With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the shelter and Nightstop projects ended, but we have continued to support people affected by homelessness in the face of fast-changing circumstances. We responded as soon as the pandemic hit with our Cheers Drive food delivery scheme which provided 160,000 healthy, delicious meals to 850 people in temporary accommodation and those who are sleeping rough. The success of this emergency response led to the Bristol Goods project, using a food club model to help prevent homelessness in the city, and support those recovering from it.
In addition our Project Z youth work practitioners support young people facing homelessness, and our Early Doors project worked in partnership with Housing Matters (formerly CHAS) works in various parts of the city to provide advice, support and information to tackle a wide range of issues that are contributing to the problem of homelessness for people in Bristol. This work is an area of expansion for the team which is growing to meet the need in the city.
Caring in Bristol continues to look for gaps in provision, and 2023 will see our new youth shelter being established. We know that young people are disproportionately affected by homelessness, so the creation of this shelter is a vital addition to resources in the city.
Our Caring at Christmas project is still an important project for us, and in 2022 featured “Bristol’s Big Christmas Dinner” to emphasise the importance of community during the festive period, and our aspiration to enable everyone to have a place at the table. It served 1440 meals over the Christmas period to our guests with the support of over 460 volunteers to make it happen.
Take a look at our timeline that tracks our development in the city…