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Bishop of Bristol expresses concern for evacuated residents

08 December 2023

DEREK HARPER/GEOGRAPH/COMMONS

Barton House, in Bristol, behind the row of terraced houses in the foreground

Barton House, in Bristol, behind the row of terraced houses in the foreground

THE Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, has expressed concerns about residents of Barton House, a 15-storey block of 98 flats in the Barton Hill district of the city, who were evacuated by the city council at short notice on 14 November, amid fears for the safety of the building.

A survey of three of the flats had indicated that the building had not been constructed to the original specification, raising fears of what could happen in the event of a fire, explosion, or large impact. Council leaders described the temporary evacuation of the building as precautionary, to allow for further, more in-depth surveys, and a fuller analysis of the building’s structure.

“We know that this is a really worrying time for everyone affected, and we’re working as quickly as we can to learn more about the issues with the structure and provide as much information as possible, as soon as we can,” the council said in a statement to residents.

“Surveyors are carrying out detailed work in Barton House to confirm our earlier findings and to recommend what we should do next. This does take some time to do, and we thank residents for their patience as we complete this as quickly as possible. Most people have now moved out of Barton House and are either staying with friends or family or at the Holiday Inn, which we have provided for residents who can’t.”

St Luke’s, Barton Hill, has worked for a long time to support people from Barton House and the wider community through both work with children and families and the weekly foodbank. The church team is working with community and faith leaders to support those who are living in temporary accommodation, and to raise wider community-housing concerns.

Bishop Faull has offered sympathy to all affected. “The evacuation process is undoubtedly a difficult and unsettling experience for those involved, and our prayers are with each and every one of them,” she said. “It is our duty, as a community bound by faith, that we act generously, offering our support and assistance in any way possible.

“Scripture tells us that every human being deserves a safe place that they can call home. . . So let us all pray that the people of Barton House may soon regain a sense of home, and start healing as a community.

“I am in close contact with our church community in Barton Hill, particularly the team at St Luke’s Church, who are working hard supporting the community during this trying time, and extend my deepest appreciation for all they are doing.”

The chaplain for housing for the diocese of Bristol, the Revd Nicola Harris, said: “I am extremely concerned about the situation at Barton House, and particularly by the short and long-term impact on lives when people, and especially children, are unable to stay in their homes.

“As part of Bristol’s Temporary Accommodation Action Group, I hear so many personal stories of those living in temporary accommodation, and I know others in the diocese are meeting people in housing need through initiatives such as foodbanks and warm spaces.”

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