Bristol’s iconic Hobbs fashion show returns – with target to raise £10,000 for homeless charity

A long-running Bristol fashion show – and the second largest event of its kind outside London – makes an eagerly-awaited return next month, with all proceeds going to help the city’s homeless.

The Hobbs Show has been hosted by leading Bristol hair salon HOBBS since 1997. The 10 events over the years, which have combined fashion, performance and music, have supported a number of local charities as well as providing a spectacular platform for local performers and artists. 

This year’s show, on Saturday June 16, will support the pioneering local charity Help Bristol’s Homeless. 

Organisers have set a target of £10,000 – enough to convert a disused cargo container into a heated and fully-fitted living unit for a Bristol homeless person.

The event will be held in the Bristol Harbour Hotel, which opened last year in a refurbished former bank on Corn Street built in 1856. The show will take the audience back 160 years as well as providing a modern twist, with performances and fashions reflecting life and entertainment in Victorian England.

Lead sponsor is hairdressing product brand TIGI with the Bristol designer clothing retailer Garment Store having a big presence at the show.

Event organiser and HOBBS owner Doug Hobbs, pictured, said: “Help Bristol’s Homeless is doing incredible work locally to help solve Bristol’s chronic problem of people sleeping rough on our streets and we wanted to play our part by both raising money and promoting the project.

“Jasper Thompson, the man behind Help Bristol’s Homeless, is demonstrating what can be achieved with just a modest amount of financial support, a great deal of good will and an inspired idea. 

“By providing not only a roof over people’s heads, but also a support system to get them back into work and reconnected with their families, he is delivering a joined-up approach that is turning lives around. We’re proud to be supporting this great cause.”

Help Bristol’s Homeless has only been going since the start of 2017, when one individual decided to find a way to help the dozens of people who sleep rough on Bristol’s streets every night, but already it is making waves – nationally and internationally as well as locally.

The project began with a converted bus housing four people on development land at Malago Road, Bedminster, but rapidly took a direction that no-one was expecting.

Jasper Thompson said: “There was a disused cargo container on the site and someone suggested we could put more beds in there during the very cold weather. That was the start. We put a door and windows in there to give it light, and then foam insulation to keep it warm and prevent condensation.

“Other people saw what we were doing and offered to help: generous individuals and companies started either paying for the work to be done, providing equipment such as kitchens and bathrooms, or volunteering to do the work themselves. Some of the people who stay here have skills they’ve been applying too.”

Today, the site has a number of functioning living units, all with showers, kitchens and a living area – with more units on the way. A bus is also being converted into further temporary accommodation, and some smaller containers will shortly begin new lives as a canteen and laundry.

“We have fairly tight rules about who can stay here,” said Jasper. “No alcohol or drugs are allowed, and our priority is to help people with a local connection. 

“Many complex factors can lead to homelessness, and while it is true that these issues need to be resolved to keep people off the street, we believe that the priority must be to get people into safe, stable and comfortable accommodation. From there, we can help them to improve their own lives and reach their potential.

“We have had councils from all around the country looking to see what we’re doing and several are hoping to emulate what we’ve achieved. We’ve even had representatives from the Dominican Republic keen to take our advice on converting the huge number of empty containers they have into shelters for those displaced by hurricane damage.

“On top of that, the fact that we can house someone decently for just £10,000 is making local authorities realise that this might just be a quick-fix solution for the many people who currently cannot afford to rent or buy their own homes.”

Help Bristol’s Homeless (CIC) is a non-profit, social enterprise and the next stage in the project is to find a more permanent base for the containers at a nearby site in Spring Street. “This land is being developed soon – so we’ll be homeless ourselves then,” said Jasper.

“Converting the next premises will cost around £200,000 – which wouldn’t buy you a one bed apartment in many parts of the city, but we can deliver lots of homes if we can raise that money.

“After that, we are looking to find some serviced land in North Bristol where we can set up a further 20 units.”

Doug Hobbs added: “The tragic fact is that the average age of death of a homeless person is 47 years old and even lower for homeless women at just 43. We’re playing just a small part in helping the homeless problem in Bristol – and local individuals and companies can get involved by sponsoring our event or providing auction items.”

Photo of Doug Hobbs by Jon Craig © JonCraig.co.uk

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