Homelessness Awareness Week - and another big Thank You!

February 2017

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Thank you to everyone for all of your support of the SOS Bristol campaign, helping people to be safer off the streets. With over 644 people supporting us we have almost raised £37,000 which means you have helped provide a bed for over 2,000 people this winter.

This week we have lots to update you on, please do have a read.

Homelessness Awareness Week

You may have heard that this week is Homelessness Awareness Week (HAW) in Bristol. It is taking place until Saturday 25 February and aims to raise awareness of homelessness, those at risk of becoming homeless and the issues facing rough sleepers. This week 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 focus is on help and early intervention to encourage people to look out for each other, spot the early warning signs and take action.

What happens if you can’t meet your rent or mortgage this month? Do you have a safety net? In Bristol 1 in 4 rough sleepers ended up on the streets after being evicted.

Art 4 Change – Cause and Complexity at The Island

One of the events taking place during HAW is a brilliant 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 aims to engage both artist and viewer with diverse causes and often complex circumstances which can lead to and perpetuate homelessness.
 
Exhibition organiser Roxanne Courtney said: “Following several overseas placements with charities, I returned to Bristol last year and I was struck by the visible increase in homelessness across the city. In these precarious times we must take action, channel our efforts, and reach out to those in need.
 
“Using a range of mediums from ceramics, collage, illustration, installation, paint, print, photography and film, Cause and Complexity is a direct, creative response from local artists, to raise awareness of homelessness in Bristol.
 
“I hope the exhibition challenges the stigma and stereotypes associated with homelessness, and encourages people to look deeper at our changing society, and the reasons behind the dramatic increase of people pushed out onto the streets.”

 
Mai Brillet from Art4Change, who are exhibiting at the event, said: “Our exhibit was created, set up and invigilated with the input of those who have experienced homelessness; our piece is an open call to all to consider their proximity to and inclusion in what homelessness means.”

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 Sleep Out

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 February 24. Further details about the sleep-out can be found at http://bristolhf.org.uk/home-page/upcoming-events/sleepout-2017/

Seeking help early

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’s 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 at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/homeless
 
Please continue to share the campaign, we really appreciate it.

Thanks from all at Safer off the Streets.

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