Housing

Big Issue Cymru helps Welsh government investigate rough sleeping

Beth Thomas, Wales and South West regional sales manager, joined other experts, charities and organisations at National Assembly inquiry

The Big Issue Cymru is helping the Welsh government to improve methods to tackle rough sleeping, after being invited to give expert advice to a hearing set up to look in to the growing homelessness crisis.

Wales and South West regional manager Beth Thomas joined other experts, organisations charities at the Equality, Local Government and Communities hearing at the Senedd.

The panel, also including Crisis CEO Jon Sparkes and Katie Dalton of Cymorth Cymru, were quizzed by cross-party assembly members, led by John Griffiths, on the scale, causes and steps to tackle rough sleeping as well as the effectiveness and availability of services.

In a series of recommendations, Beth called on the National Assembly to ensure “consistent and strong data” is collected to inform future strategies, while also asking for wider promotion of the Streetlink app used to connect rough sleepers with services.

She also highlighted the need for long-term solutions to rough sleeping while identifying problems with accommodation being “too far away” from some individuals, leading to them returning to the streets rather than trying to raise funds for transport.

In terms of the availability of services, Beth praised the “fantastic work of the frontline service providers across Wales” on the behalf of The Big Issue Cymru and called for the Supporting People funding that is crucial to its provision to be protected beyond 2019/20.

But she also suggested that problems with emergency accommodation persist, including: vendors’ fears for safety and struggles to adhere to the deadlines to express the need for emergency accommodation.

And for steps to prevent and tackle rough sleeping, The Big Issue Cymru recommendation was the need to maintain focus on the single homeless, predominantly male, who are at risk of becoming entrenched rough sleepers.

There was also a call for a greater focus on working partnerships between organisations and services in the homelessness sector and for the Housing First approach, used with previous success in Finland and the USA, to be adopted in across Wales.

Beth said: “The Big Issue Cymru would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to deliver evidence at the enquiry and look forward to the findings and the next steps on tackling rough sleeping in Wales.”

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