The number of homeless people in Bristol is on the rise—almost 90 per cent in the last three years according to some statistics. As a wealthy city where most people sleep easy, Bristol once bucked the trend for the rising tide of homelessness across the country. However, in the last two years charities have seen a sharp rise in the number of people sleeping rough.
Over a four-year period council spending on services preventing homelessness will be cut by around 40 percent. Already, Bristol City Council’s budgets for preventing homelessness have been reduced by 20% from 2011-2015.
Cutting the number of people needing help will be one of the biggest challenges Bristol will face. Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, has stated that the key to get people off the streets is by giving them meaningful employment.
‘We need to get people into employment. People need addresses. If you’ve got an address then you can be connected with the system and you can benefit. The big, big issue is to get people working… getting people feeling that they have a worthwhile life and that they do not have to live on the street’
Why do people become homeless?
Homelessness takes many forms and the view that someone who is homeless is someone who is sleeping in a shop doorway or on a park bench hides the bigger picture. There are huge numbers of people staying with friends or ‘sofa-surfing’. This is the often unseen side of homelessness and can have a detrimental impact on those experiencing it.
Often, for most of our companions, homelessness has come about through such issues as relationship breakdowns or being asked to leave by family. Other factors that contribute, and could happen to any one of us, are the loss of a person’s home, losing their job or problems with drugs, alcohol or mental health issues.
What support is available?
Our aim is to go beyond the idea of simply providing food and board for those that are affected by homelessness. We do not just offer a bed for the night, we offer a home for as long as someone needs it and rewarding work within our social enterprises.
Our ‘companions’, the name we give to the individuals who come and work alongside us, become part of a community and make a contribution to it, playing a crucial role in building self-esteem and allowing themselves and others to find a way to overcome homelessness in the long term. For more information on joining our Community as a companion please follow this link here. For more information on how you can support our Community in various ways, please follow this link here.
Did you know The average age of death of a homeless person is 47 years old and even lower for homeless women at just 43, compared to 77 for the general population? Read more about this and other shocking facts about homelessness in the Crisis Report or donate now to support our work.