07/02/18

The Wallich, has released an in-depth report into how many people are spending time on the streets of South Wales. The report echoes trends of last week’s Welsh Government rough sleeper count, showing a consistent upwards trajectory. However, The Wallich’s figures provide further data on the type of people on the streets, reporting on characteristics such as age and gender.

Our Street Based Lifestyle Monitor (SBL) shows the number of people encountered by our Rough Sleeper Intervention Teams (RSITs), in Cardiff, Newport, Bridgend and Swansea, between November 2016 and October 2017. The report aims to reflect a wider picture of homelessness in order to understand the root causes and help inform future policy affecting homelessness.

People living a ‘Street Based Lifestyle’ are defined as those who spend most of their time on the streets. This includes those sleeping rough, but also applies to individuals who are spending time in emergency or temporary accommodation, or otherwise unsuitably housed.

Headlines

– Contacts with people living street based lifestyles are rising. Total people supported by The Wallich: 2,611, a 36% increase on the 1,924 people supported in 2015-16.

– Every South Wales RSIT – Cardiff, Newport, Bridgend and Swansea – has had more contacts than the 2015-16 period, with increases ranging from 24% to 77%.

– Individuals living street based lifestyles are more likely to be male, with males accounting for between 58% and 89% of team contacts; readers should bear in mind gender is not always known or recorded (people covered up and sleeping are not woken), but anecdotal evidence bears out a clear majority of males.

– Individuals living street based lifestyles are more likely to be male, with an average age of 40-42. The 36-50 age bracket is the most represented, although it is the largest. The youngest bracket, encompassing ages 16-17, is the least represented.

– It should be noted that ‘winter provision’ can affect the numbers of people engaged with by RSITs. During winter months, churches make spaces available for people to sleep. In very cold conditions, some organisations make additional bedspaces available. Therefore, numbers of RSIT contacts often drop during winter months. Anecdotally, our members of staff have long reported that numbers of people sleeping rough tend to be higher during summer, when the weather is warmer.

We run Rough Sleeper Intervention Teams (RSITs) in Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and Bridgend. They provide hot drinks, food, and signposting to appropriate support, to people living street based lifestyles in their areas of operation. The teams, as part of this work, collect data on the people with whom they engage. As such, the data from the RSITs can be used to build a quantitative picture of people living street based lifestyles in South Wales.

Section three of the report presents the data from Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and Bridgend in sequence, before providing comparisons in a visual format. Our data recording expanded in April 2017 and so has provided further analysis on that period as part of the monitor.

Lindsay Cordery-Bruce, The Wallich’s chief executive, said, “Homelessness is more than a headcount. It’s a complex issue and the more work we put into understanding the people we’re working with, and the reasons why they’re in the position they’re in, the more chance we have of creating support services which meet their needs.

“We’re reassured by the Welsh Government’s current focus on homelessness and welcome the consultation they’ve sought from ourselves, and other homelessness service-providers, to inform the Minister for Housing and Regeneration’s homelessness ‘action plan’ announced this week. We will continue to work in collaboration to prevent and reduce homelessness in Wales.

The Welsh Government’s national rough sleeper count reported last week that local authorities estimated that 345 persons were sleeping rough across Wales, during a two-week count between 16th and 29thOctober 2017. This is a 10% increase compared with the exercise carried out in October 2016. During a one-night count, local authorities reported 188 individuals sleeping rough across Wales, on 10thNovember 2017; an increase of a third on the previous year.

Readers of the Street Based Lifestyle Monitor are encouraged to use the StreetLink service, of which we are a partner in Wales. It exists so that an individual can register someone they see on the street. This data is passed to the relevant Local Authority, who can then follow up to see if they can help that person engage with support. Anyone can register themselves, or someone else who is rough sleeping, on Streetlink via telephone on 0300 500 0914, the simple smartphone app, or the website,www.streetlink.org.uk

To read the report click here.