Thursday, 10 September 2015

Bristol Bits: Help Our Homeless this Winter

This is a subject that is very close to my heart. I have often contemplated doing something about the appalling plight of the homeless in Bristol. I love Bristol, I write about it often and I appreciate everything that is great about our city. Then it starts to get cold. The atmosphere changes and the homeless become more visible somehow. Don't get me wrong, I am always aware of them being there, but when it's cold, I can't help thinking, how close we all are to being where they are. It really doesn't take a lot. One life event can change your whole life. Last Christmas, two young people really caught my eye. 

The girl looked so ill and the lad was desperately cold. It was the week before Christmas. I was Christmas shopping. I didn't know how to help, so I walked over to Greggs and bought them some sausage rolls and drinks, so at least they would get some warmth. I also gave them gift cards so they could get something else when they needed to. It wasn't much and I kept thinking there must be more I can do, but what? Recently, my friend Sophee made me aware of a fantastic opportunity to make a difference, so this is her guest post, to tell you all about it. Over to you, Sophee...

 It was a particularly gloomy day yesterday and there was most certainly a chill blowing through the air as it pushed out the last remaining memories of summer. As we gear ourselves up for mornings filled with Pumpkin spice lattes, bonfire nights and amber skies it can be easy to forget those who are vulnerable during the autumn and winter seasons. Mother nature shows no empathy to those who are sadly having to sleep on the street. This is where us humans step in and make up for her shortcomings and lack of compassion.  It's often difficult to know where to start in terms of helping the homeless. As individual people we can want desperately to help but can feel overwhelmed and anxious about which course of action to take. It is a daunting task to take on alone. Sometimes the best thing we can do is unite with like minded people and put our thoughts into action. If you live in Bristol, or are able to travel to Bristol there is a fantastic project happening in December called 'Keep Bristol warm'. This is not a charity organisation but an active movement to demonstrate solidarity and community spirit to the homeless people of Bristol this winter. The project sees people team up and hand out backpacks full of essential items to the homeless to help them through the cold months. The backpacks will include items such as hats, gloves, scarves, thermals,  torches, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, food, dog food, blankets, coats and sleeping bags. Volunteers will meet at the Bear Pit in the centre of Bristol at 3pm. Any leftover backpacks will be given to the Julian Trust night shelter.  

Bear Pit Bristol
The Bear Pit, Bristol

The founder of the project, Gavyn Emery shared with me his inspiration for the project.
 '' Last winter was extremely cold, being out on the streets must feel simply unbearable. Most of us dread waiting on a bus stop for 10 minutes let alone a whole night exposed to the elements. Keep Bristol Warm is working to change the way we interact with the homeless, by engaging and supporting the most vulnerable in society (instead of just walking on by). The simplicity of it means it doesn't matter if you're a regular charitable contributor or a self confessed person who walks by, everyone can show up and give some love. Going forward I would love for every town and city to work with their local organisations and community and come together once a year to give some warmth to the homeless and street sleepers. I feel through time the homeless have become faceless souls and have been tarnished with a bad brush. Their eyes can tell you a million stories. We as a society need to change the way we look down and past people like this because they are human, they have hearts and they are just like you and me, all that's different is that they have walked a different path, a path with many brambles that scratch away at them everyday.'' 

To get involved, pop along to the events page on  Facebook 

If you cannot make it on the day but would like to contribute items we have a collection trolley situated behind the checkouts in Asda Filton (Abbey wood retail park).   


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