Former homeless woman treated like 'scum' finds sanctuary at Bristol warm bank

  • Watch Mel Hall's interview with ITV West Country reporter Marina Jenkins

A woman who used to be homeless in Bristol has told ITV West Country how a warm bank has been her lifeline.

Mel Hall is now in temporary accommodation but heating her new home and paying for basics is a struggle as the cost of living remains high.

She now visits Easton Community Trust every day and wants to encourage others who are struggling to do the same.

Mel explained how she and her husband Jordan ended up rough sleeping: "My husband I were going through a rough patch and we ended up being homeless on the streets.

"We ended up sleeping in a tent beyond the back of here. After six or seven months, we got put into temporary accommodation and since then it's still been really difficult. I could not cope with being in the situation I was in.

"It's caused my mental health to deteriorate. I ended up trying to take my own life."

Mel is starting as a volunteer at Easton Community Trust

Jordan has also been diagnosed with cancer, so Mel is trying to support her husband as well as look after her own mental health.

She visits the community centre in Easton every day and Mel says, it's been a huge help: "Without this place me and my partner wouldn't get a hot drink in the morning. They ask us every day how we're feeling, how we are."

"To have the communication and not be looked down on. Like I can sit outside McDonald's begging and I'm getting a load of people looking down on me like I'm scrum. Being in this place I don't get that.

"They understand my problems, they understand my autism, they understand my asperges, they understand my learning difficulties and they understand my mental health.

Easton Community Trust is open every day apart from Sunday

Mel added: "You lose that out in the town centre and members of the public, they look at you like you're mental.

"Like 'what are you doing? You're mental'. But these lot understand where I'm coming from, how we're feeling, how we are."

Easton Community Trust is open every day apart from on Sundays. Not only is it a busy community centre, it's now also a warm bank.

On offer is support and advice to anyone who needs it, free computers and wifi, a children's play area and there is always a hot drink and snack on offer too.

Mel has these words of encouragement for anyone struggling and perhaps thinking about visiting a local warm bank.

"Come and join in, come and have some fun! There's not just drinks and hot food. We do painting, sowing classes, yoga, we do a lot in the community centre.

  • Mel has these words of encouragement for anyone struggling and are thinking about visiting a warm bank

She added: "And it's all free. If you haven't got the money, if you can't afford the classes it's all free. You don't have to pay.

"If anyone is watching and is scared to come in this place, don't be. Just fight your fears and come here."

There is no doubt that Mel has had the odds stacked against her for many years, but speaking to her, I was struck by her positivity, determination and willingness to help others.

Mel is excited to be starting Bollywood classes on Wednesdays and she's also becoming a volunteer at the community centre too which she is really looking forward to.

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