“I was homeless, I was you”

“A few weeks ago, me and my daughters moved into a council house. Now we can finally put down roots. I feel like I have my life back.”

Lola, aged 40, Barton Hill.

This week you may have noticed letters addressed to those who are experiencing or facing homelessness posted across our city. These letters carry voices that are heard too rarely – the voices of those who have experienced homelessness, reaching out to those who need similar help and support.

Lola, John and Danni’s experiences of homelessness are all different, but their message to those who are facing homelessness is the same: you can turn your life around.

Ending homelessness in Bristol is one of our major priorities – last year we agreed our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy which will support our efforts to eradicate rough sleeping by 2027.

We are also delivering on our promise to provide the homes Bristol needs to tackle our housing crisis. Before Christmas I visited a brand new council housing development in Brislington, and met residents and families whose lives are being transformed by having a safe and secure roof over their head. We are building affordable homes that can help people like Lola reclaim control over their lives in every corner of our city.

Reading Lola, John and Danni’s letters, however, shows that those who are homeless face a range of different challenges and therefore need different programmes of support. One thing is common throughout the success stories shared by Lola, John and Danni – it is crucial to get help early.

That’s why the work we do with city partners to provide a range of support services is so important in helping people who are experiencing homelessness to find and maintain a safe and secure home. From our welfare rights and money advice services, to our Youth Homelessness Hub, we helped more than 3,600 people from becoming homeless in 2018. In the same year, Bristol City Council and homelessness support services in the city helped more than 900 people who were homeless, through support services like the St Anne’s Winter Night Shelter. We are also support residents in private accommodation, by cracking down on rogue landlords and introducing licencing schemes to drive up standards and security in the private housing sector.

So if you are worried that you or a family member might be at risk of homelessness, seek help now. Information is available on the Bristol City Council website on the ways we and other agencies in the city can help.

As homelessness continues to increase across the country, I am acutely aware of the difference that a safe and secure home can make to a family like Lola’s. That’s why I will continue to put delivering new housing at the top of the city’s agenda. Families across the city like Lola’s, facing homelessness or living in temporary accommodation, rely on us to deliver our pledge for safe, secure and affordable homes across the whole of Bristol. I’m proud that in this campaign we are hearing their message of hope loud and clear.

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