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Homelessness: It’s not that simple…

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Liv Ollin (Resettlement Caseworker) posted this on 01/02/2016

Support for those of us braving the Big Sleep Out is rising! As the day gets closer, I wanted to write something about what it means for One25 and why I chose to take part.

The Big Sleep Out is the main event of ‘Homelessness Awareness Week’. On an evening in central Bristol it feels hard to imagine that anyone could not be aware of the growing number of rough sleepers. It’s hard to not notice the tents, or that people have been sleeping in them even though it’s January.

This is the homelessness you can see. Homelessness Awareness Week is about drawing attention to a much bigger issue.

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Homelessness is not always visible. One25 engages with women who you may never see sleeping on the streets and who you are unlikely to find in night shelters. Their homelessness is restless. It can involve night after night of not stopping, constant moving, jumping into car to house, to car to house, to just keeping going. In this world there is often a high premium for shelter and women are highly vulnerable to exploitation.

The solution to homelessness is not always just a house. One25 works with women who have experienced very high levels of trauma, abuse and broken trust. Rebuilding someone’s confidence and sense of security is essential to helping them build a home. It takes patience and time.

The road to being housed and staying housed isn’t always straightforward. Knowing how to pay a bill, speak on the phone, or stock a fridge aren’t skills we’re hardwired with – they’re skills we learn which can quickly become obsolete. The way women adapt to living on the streets can be vital for their survival but at odds with housing provision. Rebuilding old skills and working on new skills helps to build confidence and keep women in their homes.

"Rebuilding someone's confidence and sense of security is essential to helping them build a home. It takes patience and time."

- Liv, Resettlement Caseworker

One25 works with around 230 women each year across the city. Of those women who are street sex-working, 80% will experience homelessness in any given year. We aim to meet the women where they are, whether in active addiction, on the streets, in prison, or on the road to recovery.

In the last year alone, we have helped 70 women into safer housing. Each Caseworker works towards helping women step away from the streets: through accessing hostels, rehab and refuges. Our Drop In service provides a space for women to get their head down and rest in safety. Our office provides a care of address so the women can access benefits and receive post. Our volunteers give their time towards making the women feel loved and tended to.

I am so pleased that One25 will be part of Homeless Awareness Week alongside so many other services working towards a common aim. On the 24th February I will be thinking of the women your generosity has enabled us to help. It makes a huge difference.

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