Why create Bristol’s only youth shelter?
Our team of youth practitioners are already working every day to support young people who are experiencing (or who have experienced) a homelessness crisis. Our ongoing work supports young people into housing, and builds the confidence, skills and knowledge needed to release their potential. Our team knows when circumstances force young people out onto the streets the options are limited, and the risks to their safety are high. This precarious situation cannot be right for anyone, especially vulnerable young people. An emergency shelter represents safety and a route to a better future for those who need to stay there.
“Youth homelessness in Bristol is rising due to the compounding pressures of rapidly increasing rental prices, a lack of social housing provision and the worsening cost-of-living crisis. Relative to the rest of England, affordability and housing supply is particularly challenging in Bristol.” *
We’ve done our research!
Creating a shelter is a massive undertaking that will change the landscape of provision for our city’s young people experiencing homelessness. The young people that we have worked with have told us that emergency shelters aimed at adults are not appropriate to their needs, often presenting additional risks. We wanted to know exactly what they and our partners in Bristol needed; we commissioned Dr Ella Harris (an expert in housing insecurity and housing crisis) to conduct a piece of research to inform us exactly what this gap in provision looked like, and how to ensure we fill it with the best experience for young people.
“Many sector experts, Caring in Bristol Staff, and young people, spoke about the importance of having positive house values and making sure that all young people accepted to stay in the shelter were happy to adhere to those values.” *
It’s not just about bricks and mortar, it’s also about creating the room for every individual to grow into a better, happier future. The research identified the important values that would help young people in the shelter feel physically and psychologically safe.
- Active consideration of people’s traumas, triggers and cultures with behaviour adjusted accordingly.
- Open and honest relationships with staff and volunteers while maintaining clear boundaries.
- A principle of empowering young people to be part of decisions regarding the accommodation and regarding their own assessment and move on plans.
- An inclusive space that is welcoming to LGBTQI+ people and is anti-racist.
- A zero tolerance on abuse.
- Transparent and realistic communication about how rules are made and maintained, about how and why adjustments are made for individuals and about what move on processes will look like and require.
The Caring in Bristol approach.
Our Project Z team have developed an effective, relational approach over a number of years. Forging trusted person-centred relationships with young people at their own pace means that they feel in control of their progress, and have their needs met in a way that is appropriate and individual to them. This lays the ground for positive and lasting change, from initial crisis, through to recovery, and on to success. The team’s expertise helps the young people to grow, coordinating additional resources when they are needed, always in partnership with the young people themselves.
“We place individuals we support at the centre of the service, and we seek to ensure that young people are always involved in making decisions about their life. We focus on a person’s strengths, interests, resources, and capabilities. We recognise that the individual is the expert in knowing what they need and want, and their input is paramount when identifying how their needs and wants can best be met.” **
The organisation has a long and strong heritage of working effectively with volunteers. Those who will volunteer in the shelter are selected for their commitment to supporting young people. They will add to the support provided by the youth practitioners, will be well-trained and managed, and provide a valuable dimension to the experience of those staying in the shelter. Many will build on prior experience of volunteering in Caring in Bristol’s 365 Shelter.
You can help us open the door to a new future for young Bristolians!
We could not undertake our life-changing work without the support of people who stand with us in creating a city empowered to solve homelessness. So many individuals, groups, businesses and volunteers have all been huge supporters of our work. You can too, and every day your donation will power our actions that prevent homelessness from happening in the first place, or provide support and advice to help people and families navigate Bristol’s housing crisis. And now we are on the verge of creating a brand new shelter for young Bristolians – another way of changing the city for the better.
Your help sustains our work, and we make sure your donation works hard on your behalf, wherever the need is greatest. We’re all living in tough times, but for vulnerable people experiencing a homelessness crisis, being on the edge is soul-destroying. We can change that, and we’re grateful to our caring supporters who believe in the effectiveness of our work.
If you’d like to join us in making a stand against homelessness, please consider making a donation. It’s quick, easy and safe, and you could be giving a vulnerable young person room to recover, room to breathe, room to hope and room to succeed! Thank you so much! (You can continue reading about our new shelter and how we are actively recruiting volunteers in this blog.)
Thanks to your support, the shelter (to be known as “Z House”) is able to open early in 2024. As always, we’re grateful for the amazing support of our donors. All donations go towards our mission and work of solving homelessness in Bristol, and help us to do even more at a time when more is needed.
* Dr Ella Harris in “Caring in Bristol’s New Youth Accommodation. Recommendations Report”
** Project Z’s commitment to working with young people.