Seeking shelter

St John in the Wall by Judy DarleyOn Thursday 9th June from 7pm I am hosting a literary event at St John on the Wall, an ancient church filled with atmosphere and forgotten histories.

The evening will involve poetry, tales and music inspired by the themes love, life and mortality. Just the big human topics, then. Tickets cost £4 on the door, and all proceeds will be split between The Churches Conservation Trust, who look after this magnificent space, and St Mungo’s, a charity dedicated to helping homeless people back into a life of security and self-worth.

The latter is a cause close to my heart. I believe, as St Mungo’s do, that everyone has the right to a home where they feel safe.

Homelessness is increasing in Bristol. St Mungo’s aim is sustainable recovery – supporting people via hostels and supportive housing projects, advice, physical health and mental health services.

“Outreach workers go out in the early morning and late at night to check on people sleeping rough,” says Jo Lenny at St Mungo’s. “It takes time to build up trust and a relationship. Once people agree to engage, they’re assessed so their individual needs can be supported, such as housing, or more complex needs around mental health, addiction or both.”

Aside from providing beds, St Mungo’s run a recovery college, where people can learn a new skill, or share a skill, and so be helped to feel part of the community and to engage. “A horticultural project called ‘Putting Down Roots’, supports clients to work in public parks, hostel gardens, and in the Recovery College garden, developing gardening skills, growing wildflowers and carrying out hard landscaping and building projects,” says Jo. “Current projects are in Castle Park and at New Street Centre, with plans for more. Through this, people gain skills, qualifications, paid and voluntary work.”

The number of people sleeping rough doubled between 2011 and 2013, and doubled again between 2013 and 2015.

You can help by going to where you can sign an open letter to David Cameron to Stop the Scandal.

If you’re concerned about a person sleeping rough, you can make a street referral by visiting

Find out more about the Love, Life and Mortality literary event and buy tickets at

Life, Love and Mortality – a literary night

St John in the Wall photo credit Andy MarshallSt John in the Wall photo credit Andy Marshall

St John in the Wall © Andy Marshall

I’m really excited to be hosting a special literary event on 9th June 2016, at a very special Bristol venue. St John on the Wall is one of those magical places you can pass a thousand times without truly realising it exists, and then find it hard to believe you ever failed to notice it.

Late last year, I visited this church embedded in one of the only remaining sections of Bristol’s walls still standing. The atmosphere of the place, which is no longer used for religious purposes, immediately stirred my imagination.

Happily the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), who manage the space, were just as taken with the idea of a literary evening at this site as I am.

So this is what’s happening – nine individuals (poets, prose writers and musicians) are creating works inspired by the space and the themes life, love and mortality. These pieces will be performed in the setting of St John on the Wall, with many pieces being read from the pulpit. Doors open at 7pm, with the evening expected to end around 10.30pm.

There will be a small entrance fee of (£3 for early bird tickets, £4 thereafter, and a bar selling drinks. Proceeds will be split between the CCT, and homelessness charity St Mungo’s. Tickets are available from

Here’s some text from the official press release that has gone out:

“Featuring the words of Judy Darley, Paul Deaton, Louise Gethin, Harriet Kline, Mike Manson, Helen Sheppard, and Claire Williamson, plus the music of Joanna Butler and Paul Bradley, this will be an evening focused on the things that can stop us in our tracks, and spur us on to achieve our dreams.”

Hope you can come along!