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  1. ITV Report

Bristol churches open doors to homeless

Churches across Bristol are opening their doors at night to ease the city's homeless crisis.

Credit: ITV West Country

Mayor Marvin Rees has called the plight of those on the streets 'an embarrassment' and has led an appeal to find an extra 100 beds in 100 days.

Seven churches are providing 12 beds each during a four-week trial to house some of the city's most vulnerable people. More than 150 volunteers are helping to provide a hot meal, advice and someone to talk to.

Credit: ITV West Country

Emile Samba Biakpi has been homeless for three years. He says it can be a dangerous, lonely life.

I spend the night walking all around Bristol until the morning. If I'm lucky I sleep in the bus station, if the security guard doesn't kick me out.

Help like this from the church is very welcome. It's getting cold outside and that can be very dangerous.

– Emile Samba Biakpi
Credit: ITV West Country

Homeless charity St Mungo's refers the rough sleepers to the churches

Richard Chilvers, Bristol Churches Winter Night Shelter coordinator said they hope to find a more permanent solution.

Our hope is they will be able to move off the streets and find permanent accommodation. You can't fail to see the homeless problem there is in Bristol. It's good to do something to help.

It'll be heart-breaking to say good-bye at the end of this trial but we're determined to do more in the future.

– Richard Chilvers, Bristol Churches Winter Night Shelter
Credit: ITV West Country

The City Office has had offers of 33 bed spaces from social landlords with the priority now to find private landlords who can offer shared housing at local housing authority rates.

Marvin Rees admits the amount of council housing lying empty is 'unacceptable' and work is underway to bring more back into use.

We still have a long way to go, and I would encourage anyone who thinks they might be able to help us provide some vital accommodation or other resources to get in touch.

– Marvin Rees, bristol mayor