A pioneering crowdfunding campaign ‘Safer off the Streets’ launched this week to raise £100k to help fund Bristol’s night shelters. St Mungo’s is one of the partners involved… And Nick, who was formerly homeless, explains why to Communications Officer, Jo Lenny.
I had a very comfortable upbringing and was fortunate enough to have a good career in finance. I was made redundant and enjoyed some time travelling. On my return, I moved into buying and selling retail outlets with a friend. Life was good; I was in a long term relationship and business was growing.
Then four significant things happened in close succession: a close friend died, our business crashed when subsidence was discovered in our property and we had to demolish three outlets; and then the loss of my mother due to cancer.
The moment of clarity
My long term relationship came to an end and I went from someone who always looked to the future and remained positive to finding myself at Clifton Suspension Bridge contemplating suicide – it was a pivotal moment. I knew I either had to jump or sort my life out. It was a moment of clarity and I chose to walk down the road and take hold of my life.
Fortunately, for me, I only slept rough for three nights before seeking help from St Mungo’s and the Compass Centre. I am 47. Each morning on the streets I watched people heading to work. I would have given anything to have been in work.
“It was a series of unfortunate events over a short period of time”
St Mungo’s helped me quickly. They found me a bed at the night shelter and I stayed there for six weeks. I was put on the Council’s list for housing and I have now been in my own place since mid-May. I am very comfortable in my flat, it is a nice place.
During my difficult time, St Mungo’s kept me busy. I had a routine by volunteering at the New Street Centre and I found myself a part time job.
I was put forward for a work placement and I am pleased to say that I am now fully employed with a large firm in Bristol.
I am someone who always thinks the grass is greener and looks for new opportunities. What happened to me can happen to anyone, it was a series of unfortunate events over a short space of time.
The night shelter was a lifeline, but it was just the start of recovery and that’s why it’s so important for people to help raise this £100k to keep the night shelters running this winter.
There are four night shelters in the city offering 70 emergency bed spaces and last week every bed was full. Each shelter provides somewhere safe and supportive to stay whilst volunteers and staff work to help people find accommodation, and help with health and employment issues.
The shelters are free to people needing them, with donations going towards running costs, laundry bills and volunteer expenses.
Whatever you can afford
The Safer Off the Streets campaign is asking people to donate whatever you can afford. It doesn’t need to be a huge amount. Secret Santa is a popular theme at Christmas. For the price of an office Secret Santa you could help ensure that people staying in the shelters enjoy the festive period with warmth and companionship.
People often ask what they can do to help the homeless and this campaign makes it simple:
- View our film and donate funds via Fundsurfer
- Share this campaign with your contacts
- Use the #SOSBristol hashtag on social media
- Consider volunteering at any of the night shelters – more details are on the crowdfunding page
- If you are concerned about a person who is rough sleeping please make a referral to Streetlink, the national referral service which will help connect them with local services.