World Homeless Day – Homelessness in Gloucester

The 10th of October is ‘World Homeless Day’ which aims to draw attention to homeless people’s needs locally and provide opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to homelessness. The day aims to educate people about homeless issues, celebrate and support local good work and highlight local issues.

Caridas House

Working closely with Gloucester City Council’s Housing Options Team, we manage various properties that are designated for the use of households that are either under investigation by the Housing Options Team or have been accepted as homeless under the Homelessness Act 2002 and are awaiting permanent accommodation. 

GCH Homeless Service manages three hostels that provide individual rooms with shared facilities as an alternative to Bed & Breakfast, and 28 self-contained flats that are used on a more longer-term basis. We also have a further 30 properties dispersed throughout Gloucester communities which are used to place families and single people who are able to manage a property of their own or to give them a chance at managing in their own accommodation, whilst continuing to find a permanent home. 

On average our customers stay with us for 79 days.

Our aim is to provide a high standard of temporary accommodation that is safe & secure whilst at the same time arranging support to help them to prepare for more permanent accommodation. 

Read Rachel’s Story

My name is Rachel*, I am 28 years of age, this is my life story and how I became homeless. My life has always been based around Domestic Violence and abuse. My Mother and Father divorced when I was 2 years of age because of them having me. I then grew up watching my Mother have a violent relationship. I am one of five kids to my Mother and I’m the oldest. A lot of men used to hurt my Mother, myself and my siblings until me and my husband became married. I fell pregnant with my first child and from then I gradually gained four children. Their Father became very jealous and I had nine years of violence and so did my children growing up. Eventually I got fed up and kicked him out, but I then had my children removed from our care because my mental health worsened. Now I have had depression and anxiety since I was 14 years of age. One day I had a phone call from the council telling me I was no longer entitled to a 3 bedroom house and therefore was asked to find a smaller one and leave. I was devastated and upset as this was my family home. I went back to the Council and explained my circumstance and also my medical history. I am epileptic and have 8-12 seizures a week. I am in recovery to Breast Cancer and now have depression, anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Council, however did help me. I was moved into a B&B and the 3 weeks later moved me to Nova House (one of GCH’s homeless accommodation units). Since I have been here my confidence is raised and my mental health is being also supported by the Staff. I’m in my 6th year of university studying biology molecules and I am hoping to gain a doctoral degree, and soon to have my own place. I can admit I’ve had an awful life but, it can be turned around if you ask for help. Life is unfair! But you never know there may not be a tomorrow so live your life as if it’s the last day. Also my advice is to anyone out there if you have mental health issues “So what”! it’s a illness NOT a fault you are not alone. Best of luck. Rachel
*this is a real story written by one of our residents, but we have changed the name.

Did you know? So far this year we have… 

Supported 119 households

42% were single people

A huge 58% were families

21% of those were in employment

62% of customers didn’t require any support, 17% had mental health issues or physical disabilities and 21% had a drug or alcohol addiction

Here are some more short stories and quotes from people who are currently living in our accommodation:

“I was a single Mum working part time, self- employed; I got in to a pickle with my finances and benefits, I fell behind with my rent and lost my home.   I was just trying to do my best for my children.  Now we are all living in one room and the debt is preventing me from moving on” 

“I was working, it started with a wine in the evening to relax, it all spiraled out of control and social services became involved and my children were taken in to temporary foster care.   I couldn’t work, I lost the home.  I now have my children back, I am working hard to rebuild my life and keep us all together as a family” 

“I had been in the forces, lived with my partner and we had a son.  My partner couldn’t cope with being a Mum and walked out on us.  I left the forces and concentrated on being a Dad.  I started a new relationship and we moved in together into her flat.  When my new partner turned round and said she did not want to bring up my son our world was turned upside again.  I walked away with nothing, we needed to start again” 

“When you are in private rented and the landlord decides he wants to sell the property you have to find a new home.  Very few landlords will accept anyone on benefit, so you find yourself sat at the council offices hoping that they can find you somewhere safe to live.  We ended up in temporary accommodation in Bristol until we were moved back in to Gloucester.” 

“I was living with parents whilst working fulltime having completed a degree in engineering. Following a relationship breakdown I started going out at night with my friends and using cocaine.   

This then led into using cocaine at work, due to this I then lost my high paid job in engineering and had no means to fund my cocaine which was now a habit. 

I needed to find another way of funding my habit so I started to commit burglary.  In 2017 I was convicted of burglary and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Whilst I was in prison I started using another drug and became addicted. 

After I was released from prison I was placed in temporary accommodation and I have been trying to get my life back together ever since.  I am currently trying to find employment and have done a couple of temporary jobs so I am hopeful I will find something soon.” 

We asked our current residents to explain what the word ‘Homelessness’ means to them and this is what they came up with…

H = Housing 

O = Opportunities 

M = Mental Wellbeing 

E = Equality 

L  = Life 

E  = Empathy 

S   = Safety 

S = Support 

N = Negativity 

E = Excluded 

S = Sofa 

S = Stereotyping 

What we hope you take away from this article… 

We hope that this article shows that anyone could become homeless and the majority of those who are classed as ‘homeless’ have faced barriers and often unforeseen circumstances.

We work in partnership with Gloucester City Council in the provision of interim homeless accommodation and services that include housing support.  In addition to this we work closely with and support Gloucester City Mission. 

Should you wish to support the work of GCM and our own homeless services here a few ways in you can be involved. 

  • Sponsor a bed http://www.gloscitymission.org.uk/winter-shelter-bed-appeal/ 
  • Volunteering to take part in the soup run or provision of a hot meal from the night shelter. 
  • Donations to GCM.  There is always a need for warm winter clothing, sleeping bags and socks/underwear.   
  • Donations to our homeless services – we always need hygiene pack items and also ready meals to support those that arrive with nothing. Please get in touch via 01452 424344. 

Find out more following the links below; 

Gloucester City Homes https://www.gch.co.uk/support-and-advice/support/homeless-accommodation-services/ 

Gloucester City Council https://www.gloucester.gov.uk/housing/homelessness/homeless-or-threatened-with-homelessness/ 

Gloucester City Mission http://www.gloscitymission.org.uk/ 

Crisis https://www.crisis.org.uk/ 

Shelter https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/homelessness