“Rough sleeping is dangerous; it can be damaging to peoples’ mental and physical health and can ultimately, as we have seen, end lives. Unfortunately, the dangers of rough sleeping go beyond extreme weather and beyond the Christmas period, which we’re all thinking about right now. People on the streets are vulnerable to attack, abuse and exploitation, feelings of loneliness and isolation 365 days a year.
People living on the streets are far more likely to be a victim of crime than commit a crime themselves. According to research from Crisis, people sleeping on the street are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence and 15 times more likely to have suffered verbal abuse in the past year compared to the general public.
This year, our outreach team saw 1,977 people sleeping rough on the streets of Cardiff alone; that’s 1,977 individual people with families, with histories who all need individual support. With more people sleeping rough, we are going to see more upsetting stories surrounding homelessness unless we do something about it. We need a community response. We have to find out what people need and find a way to get it to them; have a conversation with someone, use the StreetLink app, contact your local representative and let them know that this should be a priority.
There’s a lot of good work going on to support people rough sleeping in Wales but, clearly, there is still a lot more to do. The Wallich has a vision where everyone involved in homelessness services, and rough sleepers themselves, work together, as one cohesive group, to try find out what else we can do and how we can prevent more people from becoming homeless in the future. We all need to push the boundaries, bring new ideas to the table and look for something different to tackle homelessness as a matter of national concern.”