A LOCAL man who became homeless in the wake of a family tragedy is raising funds for a project to build live-in units to support homeless people across Gloucestershire.

Steve Gower, who is now based in Gloucester, has been a volunteer advocate for the homeless in Gloucestershire since getting back on his feet nearly seven years ago.

In that time he has developed a pilot project called Blue Lantern, which would see sustainable units placed in local areas to provide temporary accommodation and  support services for the homeless.

He has also teamed up with local film makers to tell his story through a new documentary, ‘Black Dog Way’, which aims to shine a light on the “injustices” faced by thousands in England alone every year.

The film is set to debut at various festivals in the new year.

This weekend, Steve is inviting locals to attend a Q&A fundraiser on homelessness, fuel poverty and a possible solution to these and other related issues in the Forest at Lydney Boxing Club.

The event will include a preview of the documentary, followed by a discussion of the findings and funding needed for a pilot project for temporary living accommodation.

A description of the documentary reads: “In the winter of 2016, Steve found himself homeless aged 49, in the wake of a family tragedy. His story is like many others. 219,000 in England alone, every single year. 

“Steve was a victim of circumstance and a man suffering from his memories. 

“He became trapped moving through the support system, trying and failing to navigate his way back. 

“Experiencing the system from the inside, he saw it as fundamentally broken. 

“After getting himself back on his feet, he vowed to ensure others wouldn’t go through the same experience. 

“He became a homeless advocate, helping people and asking for nothing in return. 

“In doing so, he became a voice for those in need. 

“He remained determined in the belief that things could and should be better. 

“Steve set out, along with many others in the city of Gloucester, to do just that. This is Steve’s story”. 

Through the Blue Lantern Project, Steve - who has experience of working in the construction industry - aims to build sustainable, live-in units as temporary accommodation, to eventually be replaced by permanent, eco-friendly homes. 

He explained: “The accommodation will be self contained and will be off grid. 

“The savings made by not having utility bills will go back into the support system, as it should do, and give our most vulnerable quality care. 

“The units will only be in numbers of about five or six, for the individuals that I’m talking of, the most vulnerable.

”One of these units will be for a live in accommodation for a care and support worker. 

“They will have accommodation, which will be free, with no utility bills, and a working, living, wage.

“Currently millions of pounds are wasted on corporate greed and low wages - that cannot continue.

“I hope and I know that this project will give people an empowerment to say, enough is enough.” 

He says that to make the scheme a reality, he needs to raise £30,000 for a bespoke unit; £15,000 for a solar system; £6,000 for a sewage system; and £3,000 for a water harvest system.

He has setup a Crowdfunder page to raise money for the project, which can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/the-blue-lantern-homeless-pilot-project.

The free Q&A event is taking place at Lydney Boxing Club this Saturday (September 16) at 2pm, lasting for around two hours.