20 February 2017

Bristol Homelessness Awareness Week

Homelessness Awareness WeekWhat happens if you can't meet your rent or mortgage this month? Do you have a safety net? In Bristol one in four rough sleepers ended up on the streets after being evicted.

And now, a range of organisations and charities working to tackle homelessness in the city are joining forces yet again to encourage people who think they might be in trouble to seek early advice and support before they reach crisis point.

The Bristol Homelessness Awareness Week (18-25 February) aims to raise awareness of homelessness, those at risk of becoming homeless and the issues facing rough sleepers. This year the specific focus is on help and early intervention. The aim is to encourage people to look out for each other, spot the early warning signs and take action.

The week got get underway with a multi-media exhibition entitled Cause and Complexity which features contributions from a range of local artists, including those with a personal experience of homelessness. The exhibition, at The Island Gallery Space on Nelson Street, aims to engage both artist and viewer with diverse causes and often complex circumstances which can lead to and perpetuate homelessness.

Other highlights of the week

During the week, 18 freestanding mirrors will pop up in The Galleries, Cabot Circus and City Hall encouraging people to take a closer look at their mental health, relationships and finances. The messaging will ask people to take a good look at their own circumstances and consider what they would do if they found themselves in trouble. Ultimately the mirrors aim to encourage people to take early action if they think there is any chance they could be in danger of becoming homeless.

The week will culminate in the annual sponsored Sleep Out, which is being organised by the Bristol Homeless Forum. Around 250 people are expected to take part in the event at the Pip 'n Jay Church from 10pm on Friday 24 February.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, comments that no-one should be faced with homelessness in Bristol, adding that we need to make sure that people who find themselves in difficulty are able to get help.

Bristol City Council is one of a number of organisations across Bristol working on a one city approach to ending homelessness through both short term solutions and long term change. Rough sleeping is not the only form of homelessness and the organisations involved are trying to do more to prevent all forms of homelessness by early intervention with those at risk.

David Ingerslev, Rough Sleeping Service Manager for St Mungo's says: "We have made some great progress in supporting people off the streets and there is still much more to do. Homelessness is everyone's responsibility and there are things we can all do to prevent difficulties reaching crisis point.

"There is help available for finances, relationships and mental health that can prevent homelessness but the trick is to seek help as early as possible."

There is a whole range of services available to help people worried about losing their home - but it is vital to make people aware that it is important to act before it is too late. Further information about the help available for anyone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless is available at the council's website.

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