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Homelessness in Bristol

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I am a third year Creative and Professional writing student working as a Writer in Residence for UWE aiming to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness in Bristol. Homelessness is on the rise, by a shocking 128% over the past three years according to statistics by Homeless Link. To ignite conversation we need to tackle this subject with creativity, compassion and imagination.

For the initial part of the project I have been focusing on ‘visible’ homelessness, this means you can see individuals who are sleeping rough and have no address and limited options. I wanted to look at visible homelessness first due to the conversations I’ve had and the stories I’ve heard surrounding peoples experiences living on the streets.

Last Christmas in Broadmead I found it harrowing to walk past what should have been an enchanting Christmas market. Beautiful aromas, festive joy and an abundance of disposable wealth lingered in the air. Shockingly it was just feet away from the most vulnerable members of our community shivering in the cold, with nowhere to go.  I felt as if I was inside a strange parallel universe where our entire society had misplaced their empathy.

In my opinion, the issue of homelessness is at a crisis level and needs drastic action. As individuals, we can create change, but we must be united in our efforts to demand what the government is doing, is simply not enough. Everyone has their own struggles to contend with, but if more people put pressure on their Local MP’s the outcome could transform lives.

Individuals should not feel bad if they’re not in a position to spare surplus food or change, but people should be aware of how they can help. Numerous charities and apps can provide information on what to do if you spot someone sleeping rough.

StreetLink works by allowing members of the public to connect vulnerable people with local services that can support them. The organisation is run across the UK and Wales and is in partnership with St Mungo’s homeless charity. If you are concerned about someone, you can contact them via their freephone number 0300 500 0914, visit their website or download the app.

During the next stage of the project, I aim to shine a light on ‘hidden’ homelessness, and bring attention to those who have no fixed address, and feel the constant fear of ending up on the streets. Some families with small children are living in one room or staying on friends sofas due to lack of housing and crippling rent. Youth homelessness charity 1625 Independent People said young people are particularly vulnerable to tenancy issues, and breakdowns in family and other relationships which results in unstable living conditions.

For my final creative piece, I want to create an anthology of ‘First Nights’.

This end project will be a collection of voices from individuals who wish to share their story and detail the first day/night they became homeless.   I am hoping the anthology will encourage conversation and help people understand the issues members of our society are facing daily.

I would be very grateful for any help or insight from other students. If you have a story or opinion you wish to share regarding the issue of Bristol homelessness, please do not to hesitate to get in touch. I will also be considering work created by students to weave into a final display, so if you have any prose or poetry that you wish to share my email is

sophie2.pearn@live.uwe.ac.uk

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