The Night is Long Without a Home

Blanket in doorway by EW

The Night is Long Without a Home is an exhibition of photographs by Ian Usher, documentary photographer and artist of homeless hostel residents and workers – in their own words.

In fact, the title is from a description by John of the loss and sorrow of homelessness.

The exhibition is organised by a few of us on behalf of Bristol Foundation Homeless Residents’ Association.

Due to drastic council cuts, the hostel residents may lose their hostel homes, and be made homeless again.

How many people would you say are homeless in your city?

According to Bristol city, only nine (this sometimes rises to 11).

This does not make sense. Alan Goddard, who runs a soup kitchen feeding about 600 every day in Bristol, says the number must be over 100.

I see evidence of people sleeping rough every day. Image

I remember before the 1980s, the only people you saw sleeping rough, were tramps – gentlemen of the road. But since then it has all changed – we see young people on the streets.

How can this happen in one of the richest countries in the world?

The UN makes visits to two countries every year to report on problems. This year, it was the UK’s turn because of its housing crisis. Here is the UN rapporteur’s report.

Empty offices lie empty, testaments of investment – while our youth sleep in doorways without prospect of employment or home.

If ONLY our society believed in kindness.

If ONLY our society understood that prevention is more effective (and less costly) than cure.

Give vulnerable people a stable home and a bit of support, and you cut down on other, more expensive, services, such as hospitals and prisons.

How we treat our homeless tells us all we need to know about the world we live in.

What has this to do with food? I mean, this is a food blog, right?

Plum compote and yogurt with expresso at Canteen by EW

Well, here is a breakfast (stewed plums and granola and yogurt with an expresso) I had last week at The Canteen in Hamilton House in Stokes Croft, Bristol.

OK, quick diversion as I explain link between Hamilton House and homelessness.

Hamilton House was a defunct office block the council planners wanted to demolish – now turned into a groovesome hub of creative activities run by Coexist. (I am proud to say my office is here, along with 200 other tenants, including Afrika Eye Film Festival, and Tribe of Doris).

Hamilton House’s visionary social landlord, Connolly & Callaghan, is also the key benefactor of Bristol Foundation Housing homeless hostels.

Bristol Foundation Housing houses and supports single people who would otherwise fall through the net, people who need support to break the homeless cycle but are not considered sufficiently ‘high priority need’ for emergency accommodation by Bristol City Council.

Working with the Probation Services and others around Bristol, BFH has reduced re-offending rates by more than 50%, probably saving the taxpayer some £20 million each year.

These are the hostels that had their funding lifeline cut in August. This (free) photographic exhibition features BFH hostel residents and workers, in their own words.

Hope you can get along to the exhibition in Hamilton House, Stokes Croft, BS1 3QY which opens tonight and runs until 9 pm, 5 November.

And please do sign the Bristol Foundation Homeless Residents’ Association petition at Change.org.

THANK YOU!

4 responses to “The Night is Long Without a Home

  1. There are certainly more than nine people sleeping rough in Bristol – and growing. A couple of nights ago I was shocked to count four people sleeping separately in shop doorways on Park Street alone.

    However much of this is to do with cuts in the funding for mental health services as well as other housing-related support.

    Bristol Foundation Housing lost their funding – via Housing Benefits – because they weren’t providing the support they were charging for. It was a well-meaning but unfortunately badly managed project. If they had been providing support they’d have been able to continue charging for it and running their projects.

    • Hi

      Many thanks for your comment. Yes, I agree cuts in mental health services is having an impact on homelessness.

      Thanks also for your comment about BFH, and your appreciation of its good intentions.

      However, I would welcome more evidence for the statement: “they weren’t providing the support they were charging for.”

      Can you tell me? On what is this based?

      Alan Goddard from Crisis Centre Ministries said at the Private View of this exhibition on Wednesday that BFH “is no better and no worse” than other providers in the city “including the Salvation Army”.

      So why is BFH losing its funding? It is doing a good job.

  2. I think BCC must mean there’s only 9 rough sleepers rather than 9 homeless people, as there are loads of hostels + B+Bs full up with homeless people and families (and the numbers are growing and will continue to grow as services and benefits are cut, house prices rise and the rich/poor gap widens). But yes, doubt that’s an accurate figure of rough sleepers anyway.

  3. Thanks, Ingrid Rose. Yes, I doubt so too.

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