Bristol

Artist's homeless questions unanswered by councils

Anthony Luvera
Image caption The questions sent to local authorities have been painted on the wall outside the People's Republic of Stokes Croft in Bristol

An artist who emailed 110 councils seeking basic advice for homeless people says only 10 replied fully.

Anthony Luvera asked authorities across the UK about access to shelter, safety, food, and healthcare.

Of those asked, 41 did not respond at all, while 59 either sent an auto-reply or pointed to organisations or charities offering help in the area.

The replies form the basis of an exhibition in Bristol called Frequently Asked Questions.

The Local Government Association said "homelessness needs to be prioritised" nationwide and new affordable homes built.

'System is broken'

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 requires councils to provide advice and help too all affected. Mr Luvera emailed 13 questions, including "where can I go for something to eat?"and "where can I find shelter when it is raining or snowing?"

The exhibition shows the councils' responses - including the auto-replies, using pie charts and graphs.

"It was a very simple set of questions asking for help," he said. "The work shows the system designed to help homeless individuals is broken."

Image copyright Anthony Luvera

Mr Luvera based his exhibition in Bristol because of the "high number of rough sleepers" in the city. 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, which has not commented, had sent an auto-reply to the questions, pointing to "a vague and general website with information about support services in the local area", said Mr Luvera.

"[Homelessness is] so much more visible [in Bristol] than other places. To be knocked back with an auto-reply is tragic I think and negligent."

Image caption Norwich was one of only 10 authorities to fully answer the email

The 10 authorities to answer fully were Hammersmith and Fulham, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Norwich, Portsmouth, Preston, Southampton and Wakefield.

"The fact the responses vary so much show authorities not sharing best practice and not learning how to support their communities as best as they can," said Mr Luvera.

The LGA said: "Behind every instance of homelessness lies an individual tragedy and councils are determined to prevent it from happening and support homeless people in their communities into accommodation as quickly and as effectively as possible.

"The next government needs to prioritise tackling homelessness and give councils the powers and funding to build desperately needed affordable new homes."

The exhibition is at the People's Republic of Stokes Croft until 12 December.

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