Homeless survival tips shared by Bristol's long-term rough sleepers

Image caption,
Message written on the wall of the PRSC by a homeless person

Tips for new rough sleepers including how to stop rats and squirrels eating spare food are being shared by Bristol's long-term homeless people.

Drop-in advice sessions are being held by community enterprise the People's Republic of Stokes Croft (PRSC).

"The experts on how to survive a winter on the streets are those who've done it," said Lisa Furness from the group.

Other advice includes where in the city rough sleepers can go for a free hot meal and shower.

The sessions also offer a blanket exchange where people can take in a wet or dirty blanket and exchange it for a clean, dry one.

Image caption,
Clean, dry blankets with the PRSC address on them can be picked up at the drop-in sessions

Rob, who is in his 50s and did not want to give his full name, has been homeless for 10 years. He sleeps in a tent.

He said newly homeless people are often alone and "marginalised, living outside the structure of the state".

He added they "need a connection" with others to survive.

"People are in such a precarious state they don't have a rucksack so there's nowhere to store their belongings or keep stuff dry and life has become chaotic," he said.

Rob's tips for surviving on the streets

  • Get a rucksack to hold your personal belongings
  • Keep hold of your sleeping bag or have a safe place to store it
  • Have two changes of clothes including waterproof trousers and a coat
  • Keep spare food in a tin to keep rats and squirrels out
  • Pitch your tent under trees for shelter and to be hidden for safety
  • Make contact with others and sleep in groups

Ms Furness said homeless people need "human contact from someone who will just ask them if they're ok and recognise them as a person and stop for a conversation".

She added: "Outside the sheer physical danger and vulnerability is the psychological issue of feeling useless, unwanted, invisible and looked down on."

Bristol City Council's rough sleeping partner organisation, St Mungo's, had contact with 951 people in 2018 - a 23% increase on the previous year.

The authority wants to half the number of rough sleepers by 2022 and to eradicate sleeping on the streets completely by 2027.

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