The Bristol business quarter got a bit of a makeover on Thursday 24 November.
Around 150 people descended on Rivergate, Temple Quay, home to some of the richest companies in the world and the Department for Communities and Local Government. Normally a very professional and clean cut kind of place, on Thursday night, things were disrupted somewhat and turned a bit rough and ready.
Over 100 people slept on the street with no more than a bit of cardboard and their sleeping bags in order to raise awareness of the growing numbers of young people facing homelessness in Britain. It couldn't really be ignored. It wasn't by chance that we staged the event in the business quarter as we are really keen to work in partnership with more companies to help solve the issues vulnerable young people face attracting employers.
The Bristol event, part of a national campaign to "End Youth Homelessness
" was one of twelve Sleep Outs
being staged around the country to raise awareness and funds to tune of over £500,000.
All the "sleepers" were sponsored by friends, colleagues and family to give up their home comforts for a night, which turned out to be a bitterly cold one. This wasn't so they could "try homelessness" or "sleep rough" but so they could help us bring some attention to the issue. They also raised funds for charities, like us, which support a marginalised and disadvantaged section of our society; those inadvertently penalised for being in the transition between childhood and adulthood - dependence and independence. A cohort we feel are often underserved.
The event aimed to raise awareness and achieved this in the following media activity:
The Bristol event has raised over £21,000 for 1625 Independent People with more in the pipeline in an incredible show of solidarity for vulnerable young people.
Some were apprehensive of what they had let themselves in for, some had done it before and helped others. The mix of people and backgrounds who had chosen to take part and the way different groups in the city supported it to happen was a true display of the local community coming together with a common purpose.
Sleepers included ex-service users, Councillors, staff teams from local companies such as UNITE Accommodation
, Foot Anstey
, Taylor Wimpey
, there were long time supporters, staff and volunteers from 1625ip and the local community. All in agreeance that we need to look after our struggling young adults as much as we do our children and older people.
Pilar Garcia, Funding and Communication Manager said
"It was not a huge glitzy event but it was a powerful one. The conversations and stories that were told will go a long way to helping more people understand that vulnerable young people i.e. those who are struggling to make it on their own, need more help if they are to succeed in our society.
But more importantly is the shift in consciousness needed towards agreeing that when people lack the stable network of support - we all, society - need to step in and provide it - not just "the council". Everyone deserves decent, safe housing, care and support and a chance to make something of themselves regardless of their background."
Colin Moody, a local photographer attended the event as part of his new project "We are One
" to create a composite portrait of the face of Bristol, photos of faces layered to create one face.
He photographed around 40 people on the night which will contribute to the Bristol portrait but also produced a stunning version of the "Face of Sleep Out". A unifying message at a time when there seems to be so much divisiveness in the media.
Miles Chambers the first ever Bristol Poet Laureate
gave the crowd a treat with a performance of his heartfelt and passionate Bristol poem "I belong here" which includes such poignant verses as
"I love you Bristol, I love the clamour of the weekend drinkers and the hustle and the bustle of the 9-5
I hate you Bristol as I watch every day the young kiddy with the old weathered face in a Tesco shop doorway clinging to his blanket of security begging to survive.
...I belong here Bristol with the privileged pupils parade their privileged uniforms and the under privileged not being encouraged to perform,"
The shivering crowd heard from staff and young people, members of the 1625ip Youth Board
who are helping to make sure young people's voices are heard and some who have been supported and are now supporting the charity.
Part of the message from the charity is that positive outcomes hinge on staff having time to care and build genuine relationships that matter. Capacity to spend more valuable, meaningful time with each young person and offer opportunities for positive activities is key to a young person's success, but this requires funding which the event will contribute to.
The crowd were also treated to live music from Maxi Rai
, Maddie and Melissa
, Tia Psihogios and The Legendary Barry
while eating food donated by the local community, rescued from waste and lovingly prepared and served by Food Cycle Bristol
. Yurt Lush
kindly supplied a hot drink and porridge in the morning.
Huge thanks goes out to every single individual and company who took part, to our partners Centrepoint
and the End Youth Homelessness coalition, GVA and the tenants of Rivergate for allowing us to take over for the night and the numerous organisations who donated event logistics and time.
Special thanks to all those who sponsored a sleeper, donated to the Brizzz Sleep Out 2016 fundraising page
or used the TEXT BRZZ88 £2/£5/£10 to 70070 to donate.
We haven't quite raised our fundraising target so please feel free to donate!
More photos from the night can be seen on our Facebook page Bristol1625ip
and by following #brizzz on Twitter
Check out the #Brizzz Sleep Out Roll Call which displays just how diverse the sleep out community is!
Click to enlarge...
1625 Independent People is a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation and relies on donations and support from the public and private sector. Help us maintain this crucial service for young people - there are many ways to get involved. Find out more about supporting us
Contact: Pilar Garcia, Funding and Communication Manager
Tel: 0117 317 8800 / 07956 306 492