Rough Sleeping a ‘Priority’ Bristol Mayor Marvin Says

The number of people sleeping out on the streets of Bristol, has officially been recorded as 82, according to figures released by Bristol City Council this week.

This number does not include people who are sleeping in abandoned or ‘unsafe’ buildings, those sofa surfing or living in temporary accommodation.

The city’s official annual count only takes in those who are seen visibly rough sleeping.

The council says the numbers are ‘consistent’ with last year’s statistic which was 86, but Bristol has seen an increase in the amount of people sleeping rough over the last five years.

The last two quarterly counts, held between 5am and 8am, in the city logged 126 people street sleeping

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, says the issue of homelessness is a ‘top priority’ and is committed to reducing the numbers of rough sleepers on the streets,

“We are joining up with city partners to make sure that people who find themselves homeless are supported and will keep focused on this until the number of rough sleepers in Bristol is zero,” He says.

“Sleeping on the streets is not safe so as a city we cannot ignore the issue or overlook the challenges some people face. We know however rough sleeping is a complex issue so are committed to having an approach that understands the individual support needs of each person.”

The city’s first 24 hour winter shelter recently opened in St Anne’s and the Julian Trust Night Shelter will be open seven days a week throughout the winter.

Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Paul Smith says that the growth of rough sleeping in the city is ‘very concerning’, with a ‘lack of social housing’ continuing to be a ‘major issue’ across the country.

He said: “We are very aware that people sleeping rough only represent a very small portion of the wider homelessness issue in Bristol with hundreds of families in temporary accommodation and many other people forced to live in vehicles or in other unsuitable circumstances.

“We are working closely with partners to support rough sleepers and homeless people in a number of ways, but the problem remains that people are finding themselves on the streets quicker than we can support people into suitable accommodation.

“We need to continue to focus on early intervention and prevention, to stop people becoming homeless in the first place. We need people to look for support and advice as early as possible, so we can try and keep people in their homes whenever possible.”

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