The makeshift homeless safe haven in Bristol (Image: Paul Gillis/Reach PLC)
A group of people living in tents in a UK city have spoken out about how they ended up forming a small safe haven on a roundabout.
A number of tents have sprung up at the Bearpit in Bristol. And now, the people living inside the tents say they keep the area “immaculate”.
They have explained their circumstances and how they ended up living in the makeshift accommodation, reports BristolLive. The Bearpit has a high-rise Premier Inn looking over it and a former Debenhams as its backdrop.
None of those living on the roundabout were willing to give their surnames, but they were happy to chat about their experiences. Ryan said: “We keep things neat and tidy here. We were living in a flat in Weston-super-Mare, but we were evicted.”
Those living at the Bearpit say they keep it “immaculate” (Image: Paul Gillis/Reach PLC)
Ryan’s partner Vicky used to manage a care home. She says they had been paying rent for a flat while waiting for a tenancy agreement that never materialised.
She said: “My children don’t know I’m homeless. We’re both professional people, we don’t do drugs and we just want to get a place to live.”
The couple said they chose the Bearpit because it was safe with a group of other people around. Ryan said: “I don’t like it to be an eyesore, we make sure it’s immaculate.”
Timothy, who said he has a degree in economics and was a maths teacher, said the waiting list for emergency housing was ‘five months’. He said: “All I want is somewhere to live.
Homeless people who have set up tents at the Bearpit in Bristol city centre (Image: Paul Gillis/Reach PLC)
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“I’ve been living in a tent since I lost my job. There’s completely inadequate provision of housing for the homeless, yet the councils and charities make eye-watering amounts of money.”
Father-of-three James explained he had been homeless for around five months. He explained: “I want to get off the streets. I was at the harbour but I came here as it’s safer.”
With the winter months coming, all those living on the roundabout wanted to find accommodation, even if only a temporary measure. There was general agreement that there were “many places in Bristol where we can get food”.
Another two tent dwellers, who did not want to be named, said they had both lost their jobs during the Covid lockdown and had not worked since. At the beginning of this year, charity Shelter said there were close to 3,000 homeless people in Bristol, according to its data.
Shelter’s research, which was a result of an analysis of official homelessness figures and responses to Freedom of Information requests, indicated that nearly 10,500 people were homeless in the South West with Bristol having the highest rate. This equated to one in 183 people living in a hostel, temporary accommodation or on the street.
The charity warned that is was ‘bracing’ for a spike in homelessness in 2023. Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said homeless people were facing ‘a truly bleak 2023’ with private rents and living costs continuing to soar.
At that time, Bristol City Council said the city was in the grip of a ‘housing crisis’ which saw 19,000 households on the housing waiting lists. The council said council house building programme was being accelerated, as well as supporting the building of affordable homes with partners to help deal with the lack of affordable accommodation.