Homelessness in Bath during the pandemic: How can we support the homeless over the Christmas period?

Homelessness is a sad yet common sight in the city of Bath. Those who are homeless have already been hit badly by the pandemic, and times are likely to only get tougher as we approach the Christmas period. Facing extreme isolation from society and being forced to brace the extremities of our winter weather, rough sleepers have an increased risk of injury, abuse and in the worst cases, death. According to the Chief Executive of Crisis Homeless Charity, Jon Sparkes, those residing on the streets are seventeen times more likely to experience abuse in comparison with the general public. Alienation and loneliness are quite often overlooked when considering the plight of rough sleepers, yet many of those living on the streets are in need of company and compassion, sometimes just as much as food and shelter. A short conversation and a willing interest to listen can go a long way towards improving the wellbeing of an individual facing the adversity of homelessness this winter. 

In Bath, we are equipped with some amazing homeless charities; both Julian House and Genesis Trust offer a range of vital services, from providing food via the Bath Foodbank to offering temporary accommodation to those in need in the Bath Hostel. 

Jessica Gay, Senior Community and Events Fundraiser at Julian House, spoke to Bath Time about students can do over the Christmas period. Jessica recommended Streetlink: “If anyone sees someone sleeping rough this winter, please report it via the Streetlink app. This is a useful and free app which records when and where you saw that person and that information comes straight to our outreach team, so we can go out and help them.” 

Julian House has a dedicated full-time outreach team who can offer direct support, including offering local accommodation, drug and alcohol treatment or internet access to rough sleepers in Bath.  

Unfortunately, Julian House is facing a £200,000 funding deficit this year due to the impact of COVID-19, which has forced them to temporarily shut their shops and put a halt to fundraising activities. This income is used to fund the lifesaving services which so many in Bath rely on. A donation of just £5 can help provide a week’s worth of food for a person staying in their Bath hostel. However, if you don’t have money to spare over the Christmas period, support through social media, such as by sharing the charity’s posts, can make a real difference. 

As part of an ongoing relationship with Julian House, myself along with a group of students from the University of Bath have recently launched a campaign aiming to offset some of their funding deficit this winter. Our goal is to raise £1000 to aid Julian House’s Christmas Appeal and have secured 70% of our target to date. If you would like to find out more or donate to Julian House, please visit our JustGiving page.  

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