This is an article for the South Wales Evening Post
Just as it is inevitable that Christmas Day will feature the Queen’s Speech so there will be an increased focus at this time of year on those who are unfortunate enough to find themselves on the streets and without a home.
That is right and proper. It is the season of goodwill, but also it is colder and less temperate this time of year, so it is far more hazardous sleeping rough.
Fortunately, Swansea has a good support network. A number of churches, including Christwell in my council ward, join together to provide overnight accommodation, venues such as Zac’s Place provide food and clothing and much more.
There are other organisations too, including Caer Las, Wallich Clifford and the Missionaries of Charity whilst the Council’s Housing Options service in High Street can identify needs and refer accordingly.
Rough sleeping is the harshest tip of a very large iceberg. People on the streets are visible, families living in unsuitable or overcrowded accommodation, or those sofa-surfing in friends’ living rooms are not always so obvious.
It is not always just about providing accommodation. Many rough sleepers have other problems including substance misuse or mental health issues. A number would not know how to manage a tenancy. That is why putting support services in place is so crucial if we are to get people into safe, secure and sustainable accommodation.
This is an all-year-round problem. It does not just occur at Christmas and the organisations I have listed above are working to support the homeless throughout the year. My thanks goes to all those who work in this area. Their commitment and dedication is really making a difference.