In the new year, Bradford Council will launch its Homelessness Charter, joining cities such as Leeds and Manchester in mapping out their commitments to tackling the issue of homelessness and supporting those that find themselves homeless or sleeping rough. In order to promote the charter, and to make sure it’s something the whole city has had input in, we at Bradford Cares have started the ‘Homelessness in Bradford: A City Conversation’ campaign, or #CityConversationBFD if you’re posting about us on social media. This is a chance for everyone in Bradford to come together and have an honest, open and interesting discussion about how we can work together to help support those who are facing homelessness within Bradford.
Our first event was focused around raising awareness of the issues within Bradford and getting everyone in the room to make sure everyone has their voice heard. We began the event by posting up questions around the wall, and getting everyone to respond. The questions covered a range of topics, from ‘What can the Council do better?’ to ‘What are your main concerns surrounding Homelessness in Bradford’. Attendees were encouraged to jot down their answers onto post-it notes, and pop them up around the room. This was the first way of starting a conversation – there were some disagreements between post-it notes that were then debated later on in the event, and it was great to get so many people looking at homelessness from different perspectives.
We then heard from our 4 speakers – a representative from the Council, 2 members of Bradford Homeless Outreach Partnership, and a volunteer for the charity Bradford Street Angels. Each speaker had a new perspective on homelessness in Bradford, but one thing they all agreed on is that more needs to be done to address the issues surrounding those sleeping rough. We discussed how best to help homeless people, which led to attendees hearing a myriad of ways they can make a difference within Bradford. We had one member of the public state that we need to be having more conversations about it so that they can hear about all the great work that is being done by charities within Bradford, highlighting the need for a #CityConversationBFD. Overall, it was a really great introduction into the work being done across Bradford by various different groups and gave an insight into how we can all play a part in ending homelessness.
The second event of our #CityConversationBFD series was our Volunteering Fair when we invited potential volunteers along with current volunteers and charities to learn about how they can give their skills to help tackle homelessness within Bradford. What was originally intended to be a chance for attendees to grab some flyers and ponder at home turned into a really great chat amongst a bunch of different people, all discussing how best to get involved. We chatted about the importance of centring those that are homeless in your volunteering and making sure it isn’t a tokenistic gesture. There is a wide range of ways in which you can volunteer, whether it's by using your art skills to provide a social activity, or performing music at a charity fundraiser, or by giving your time on Friday nights to patrol the streets with your local street angels. We highlighted the many different opportunities available within Bradford, and attendees went away with way more knowledge not only about where to volunteer but how as well.
There’s still much more to be done with our City Conversation series. In the New Year, we are going to be working with groups across Bradford to ensure the Homelessness Charter has the interests of those affected at its core. We are also going to create a social calendar for those that have been housed but struggle to fill up their days, which will be full of different types of activities. If you would like to get involved with our work or have any additional ideas as to how we can further extend our #CityConversationBFD, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.