Government figures released today by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show more people were sleeping rough on the streets of Bristol in 2023 – an increase of 16% from 2022.

According to the annual rough sleeping snapshot in England, an estimated 67 people were sleeping rough in 2023 compared to 58 in 2022. This rise is extremely worrying, especially when the UK Government is trying to pass new laws that would criminalise sleeping on the streets.  

Responding to the updated statistics, Jessica Hodge, Chief Executive at Emmaus Bristol, said:

“Today’s figures are extremely worrying and evidence of how the cost-of-living crisis and lack of affordable housing, together with short-notice evictions of refugees from home office accommodation has exacerbated street homelessness. This 16% increase is not just a numerical surge; it represents the harsh reality faced by people without a home. This data is obtained from a single night of the year and does not include people in hostels, shelters or sofa surfing, meaning the true number of people who were experiencing street homelessness and hidden homelessness throughout 2023 is likely to be substantially higher.

“It is deeply troubling that we have seen this increase at the same time as the UK Government is trying to pass the Criminal Justice Bill, which contains proposals that would mean people who are homeless in England and Wales could face fines or even prison for rough sleeping. Homelessness is not a choice or something people should be criminalised for.

“It is positive that earlier this year Bristol City Council received funding from the UK Government to increase the supply of high-quality supported accommodation, however the UK Government must prioritise comprehensive strategies to address all types of homelessness and invest in affordable housing, mental health services and support programmes.”

At Emmaus Bristol, we provide accommodation, work experience opportunities, tailored support and training to people who have experienced homelessness, social exclusion and poverty. Our charity works with up to 26 people at a time for as long as needed, helping each person to recover and rebuild. We are currently fundraising to expand due to an increased demand for rooms and a lack of affordable housing making it difficult for companions to move out, as Jessica explains:

“When Emmaus Bristol residents have found paid work or are ready for independent living, it is incredibly difficult for them to move out due to the lack of social housing and the prohibitively expensive and competitive private rental sector in Bristol. This prevents us from being able to accept new residents who need our help and prevents current residents who are in paid work from moving on with their lives. In response to this, we want to create our own ‘move on homes’ and would be extremely grateful for any donations to help Emmaus Bristol expand to support even more people out of homelessness.”

To donate to Emmaus Bristol’s New Homes fundraiser, visit our JustGiving page.

To take action against the Criminal Justice Bill and the criminalisation of people experiencing street homelessness, visit the Crisis campaign page to find out how.