Leading homelessness charities, voluntary organisations and community action groups in Bristol have joined forces to provide daily collaborative services for people who sleep rough in Bristol during the COVID19 Crisis.
The charity collective are currently delivering a single point of food provision for those sleeping rough, that will run at the same time, the same place, every day of the week, supported by Caring in Bristol’s Cheers Drive project. This will be the first time that every one of these organisations has worked together to deliver a food service.
Ben Richardson director of Caring in Bristol says: “People sleeping rough on our streets during the COVID19 pandemic are exposed to significant challenges and dangers, and no one organisation in the city can solve this. By joining together as a group of organisations and activists in Bristol we can reach out and provide better food and information guidance seven days a week in order to help people off the streets.
We’re hopeful that this collaboration extends beyond the crisis and inspires new and effective ways of working across the city, to make the impact we want and end homelessness in Bristol.
We openly invite any groups or services who aren’t currently involved, but are as committed as we are about helping people who sleep rough in Bristol to join this coalition and help provide a daily schedule of care and support for those who are most exposed to the virus.”
Richard Drake for Bristol Homeless Forum says: “The organisations that have come together are all members of Bristol Homeless Forum which is open to any individual or organisation working with the issues of people who are homeless in Bristol. It’s encouraging to see the enthusiastic way in which we are working together in the current crisis.”
Julie Dempster Director of Bristol Outreach Services for the Homeless (BOSH) says: “The task of housing rough sleepers during the pandemic has not been straightforward meaning that many vulnerable people are left on the streets without access to their regular services. It has been incredibly heartwarming to see so many likeminded charities come together to ensure clients have consistent access to food and support. Collaborative working is the only way forward.”
Martyn Jones Director of the Bristol Soup Run Trust says: “The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for us, but it has been incredibly encouraging to see the way that different charities and agencies have come together to continue to support people in need in Bristol. We hope this collaborative approach will continue longer-term as we all work to end homelessness in our city.”
Shada Nasrullah Trustee of Feed The Homeless says: “We have fed the homeless and rough sleeping population in Bristol for more than four years, dealing with many challenges along the way but the challenges of the current climate are beyond what anyone could have imagined.
Feed the homeless is proud to be a part of this amazing collaboration of grass roots charities, working together from the outset to ensure we continue to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable people in our community, treating them with dignity and respect and ensuring they and our wonderful volunteers are kept safe. I am very moved and grateful to all the businesses and individuals who have supported us in some shape of form. Thank you so much.
There will continue to be many challenges ahead as we make our way through this crisis, but I have no doubt that the enormous support from our charity partners, businesses, volunteers and the wider community will enable us to ensure we can feed and support our homeless and rough sleeping community.”
Waldemar Duzniak, Vice Chair of the Julian Trust says: “the need for people to keep a safe distance apart has meant that we are unable to provide our normal service in a safe and reliable way. We’ve been pleased to dedicate the resources we can to support the continuing efforts of others to feed homeless people in Bristol, wherever they are. Many of our volunteers have also been able to support several of the other organisations providing food and accommodation in different ways.”
Mick Connolly (Wild Goose Drop-in Manager) from InHope says; “The Wild Goose (an inHope project), continues to support those who are homeless and vulnerable housed in Bristol, working closely with other organisations and community groups to deliver services across the city.
Those who are homeless and vulnerably housed in Bristol are facing unprecedented challenges due to the coronavirus. Homelessness organisations have had to adapt their services and approaches overnight in order to maintain the levels of support needed, whilst keeping those who use their services, volunteers and staff safe.
Close partnerships within Bristol are crucial to ensuring tackling the challenges created by the coronavirus. The Covid-19 partnership ensures that there is a unified and consistent approach across the city, and makes sure that people know where to get help, food and support on a daily basis.”
The Bristol Methodist Centre says, ‘’The Methodist Church has long sought to care for those who are vulnerable in society. At a time when the resources of so many charities are stretched, it is especially important we work together to care for those who are sleeping rough and in need in our community.’’
Lois Wentworth from Roots Independent Street Team says: “The current situation with COVID-19 is difficult and scary for most of us, but for those without shelter, it is an especially challenging time. That is why we are grateful that some rough sleepers in Bristol have been placed in temporary housing and shelter by the council, in order to limit the dangers that they are exposed to.
We are very proud to be working with other fantastic charities and organisations across Bristol to continue food provision for those most in need, whilst the country is in lockdown. We’d like to extend a special thank you to the other homelessness charities involved in this coalition, for everyone’s hard work, support and attentiveness at this time – we, too, hope that this work is a foundation of bigger and better things to come.
Roots would also like to recognise the amazing volunteers that are continuing to dedicate their time – without their support and enthusiasm, this project would not be able to operate.”
Gareth Mercer, Outreach Services Manager at St Mungo’s, said:”At St Mungo’s we have been working around the clock supporting people who are rough sleeping and in emergency shelters into safe accommodation for self-isolation. I am proud of our teams who have worked throughout this period on the frontline, making sure our clients are safe and supported.
“We’ve always been committed to working collaboratively with other organisations across the city. Now, however, it is even more vital that we all pull together to make sure that everyone who has recently moved into this self-isolation accommodation is supported throughout this difficult time.
“The wonderful meals being delivered daily to our clients is testament to the dedication of every organisation, charity and individual that’s part of this collaboration, and the resounding community spirit throughout Bristol.”
Richard Townsend Street Life Leader says, “Street Life is pleased to be part of the Covid-19 Caring in Bristol Homeless Mutual Aid Group. Every Saturday evening before the Lockdown, Street Life fed and clothed large numbers of homeless and vulnerably housed people, in Brunswick Square, St Pauls. It became difficult to maintain social distancing within our teams and also for our “guests”. Therefore, Street Life’s street operation was suspended on 1st April. Street Life has made available it’s resources, in support of the homeless on the street and those billeted in hotels. It is our hope that this Homeless Mutual Aid Group will continue, until we end homelessness in our city.”