Homelessness and rough sleeping are on the rise everywhere. When Jasper Thompson noticed an increase in rough sleeping in his home town, he decided to do something about it. He wanted to give them a tangible route to turn their lives around. And that starts with housing. And so he started Help Bristol's Homeless.
"I started by handing out sandwiches to rough sleepers at a well known Bristol landmark, as I believe we can all be the change we want to see in the world. But I wanted to do more and find a way to, not just give a hand out, but a hand up".
When you provide the security and dignity that everyone deserves, you empower them to take an active role in improving their situation.
So, from those small acts of kindness, Jasper has inspired a whole community to come together and back his vision. So 'Help Bristol's Homeless', now a registered charity was born.
With a mission to get homeless people off the street first, and then give them a helping hand in the right direction, Help Bristol’s Homeless is changing the face of homelessness in Bristol.
Unlike many homeless charities, their ethos is that housing must come first, and then everything else comes after. Many complex factors can lead to homelessness, and, while it is true that these issues need to be resolved to keep people off the street, they believe that the priority must be to get people into safe, stable, and comfortable accommodations.
From there, they can help them to improve their own lives and reach their potential. They work with the support of their directors, trustees, staff, and volunteers to build temporary accommodations for residents while they access the help needed to secure a permanent home.
Help Bristol's Homeless projects have already proven successful as individuals pass through the project and move on to jobs, accommodation, and a new chapter in their lives.
Related: Read up on our guide to becoming a homeless shelter volunteer.
What Has Help Bristol's Homeless Achieved So Far?
Every individual helped on their outreach, on the emergency shelter bus, or in a converted shipping container micro-flats are their testimony. Weekly, over 50 people are supported on outreach. They have converted the bus from scratch, and have finished containers both for flats and laundry and stores, as well as one for the bus guests. They have engaged the community, local firms and businesses, and dozens of volunteers to run and fund the projects.
What Does Jasper Wish He'd Known At The Beginning?
"What we underestimated was how the project would grow and how quickly it has done. We are staffed entirely by volunteers and I have been continually amazed at the generosity of the Bristol community in donations, time, materials, and money. The need for this project has also grown and we are determined to move to a permanent site to create a sustainable container village, with the vision of collaborating with other agencies to create something Bristol can be proud of while helping more homeless and rough sleepers turn their lives around".
What's The One Piece Of Advice For An Aspiring ChangeMaker?
"Do not underestimate the willingness of people to give their time, expertise, and advice, nor underestimate the value of that to help you move forwards".
How Can People Get Involved Or Help Out?
What Are The Plans For The Future?
To relocate to a new site and create an integrated container flat village, with workshops for enterprise alongside further developments of affordable housing.