City Hall has opened its doors to donations of warm winter coats as part of an appeal for rough sleepers and homeless people in partnership with Caring in Bristol and the Julian Trust.
As part of a staff initiative people are being asked to bring their old winter coats to the reception at the front of City Hall between now and the end of November.
All donations will be passed on to Caring in Bristol, a charity which supports homeless and vulnerable people in Bristol.
At the council’s other main city centre office, 100 Temple Street, a team of staff volunteers are coordinating a collection of food and clothing donations from their colleagues. All of these donations will be passed to the Julian Trust.
Jessica Randen, Business Support Officer at Bristol City Council, came up with the idea of starting the collection.
She said: “Until I began working for Bristol City Council, I had not realised the magnitude of the housing crisis here in Bristol. As I began working with the estate management team, it became very clear that homelessness and rough sleeping in Bristol are major problems.
“The number of people rough sleeping has more than doubled from 41 in 2014 to 97 in 2015, despite a range of initiatives in the city to try and prevent this from happening. The city’s night shelters do a fantastic job providing support and a bed to people who find themselves on the streets, and I really wanted to do something to help.
“As the weather starts to get colder, I am hoping staff at the council can all come together to provide some extra food and warmth for the people forced to sleep rough in the city.”
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “My thanks go to Jessica and the rest of the volunteers for starting their collection. This is a great example of the momentum and resource we can bring together, working as a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
“If you have a winter coat you no longer need or one that’s been hanging at the back of your wardrobe for a little while, please consider dropping it off at City Hall to help some of Bristol’s most vulnerable residents.”
The council’s priority is to get people off the streets, and the Rough Sleeping Partnership was set up to address the problem of street homelessness in the city.
Jo Ellis of the Julian Trust said: “We are extremely grateful to Bristol City Council for collecting items for the Julian Trust. We serve over 80 meals each night and have beds for 18 guests but couldn’t operate without the support and generosity of the local community.
“It’s reassuring to have so many kind people out there willing to support the homeless in Bristol and we really appreciate all your help.”
Matt Dowse, Charity Director, Caring in Bristol said that “It’s fantastic that City Hall are running this initiative. The number of rough sleepers have increased, so if you’ve got a spare warm or waterproof coat that you can donate to us, the homeless and vulnerable people of Bristol will truly appreciate it.”
A list of items the Julian Trust currently needs, as well as information about how to donate, can be found at juliantrust.org.uk.
For more information about Caring in Bristol visit http://caringinbristol.co.uk/
StreetLink is England’s only phone-line, website and mobile app that allows members of the public to send an alert when they see someone sleeping rough and connect them to local services.
Call 0300 500 0914, visit www.streetlink.org.uk or download the app for Apple and Android devices.