Planting willow hedges

Only Men Aloud are supporting The Wallich this year through their Charity of the Year scheme. As well as participating in events and helping to raise money for the charity, members of the choir have been keen to learn more about the issue of homelessness.

Last week, members of the choir spent the day with homeless people at Wallich projects across Cardiff to learn about the causes of homelessness and to find out about the support and solutions we offer.

Bright and early, the group headed out with the Rough Sleepers Intervention Team where they gave out hot food and coffee to rough sleepers in the city centre. The ‘breakfast run’ is a crucial first step for many rough sleepers in finding a way off the streets. Staff offer advice and support, helping rough sleepers to access accommodation, medical assistance or other services – depending on their needs.

After breakfast, they joined a group of Wallich residents who undertake volunteering at St Fagan’s museum. Volunteering is beneficial on many levels; it helps the most vulnerable homeless people to rebuild their confidence, trust and social skills, while also serving as useful experience for those further along their journey who are looking to re-enter education or employment. Together, the team of volunteers planted willow hedges at the famous Bryn Eryr farmstead.

Later in the evening, the group spent time with rough sleepers who were spending the night at our emergency nightshelter in Cardiff. As well as a warm, safe bed, the nightshelter offers a hot shower, use of the laundry facilities and a proper cooked meal. Homeless people staying at the nightshelter are signposted to longer-term solutions so they can escape the streets.

David Mahoney, of Only Men Aloud, reflected upon the visit:

‘The emergency nightshelter on Friday evening was a real eye-opener. Yet despite the hardships that its residents were clearly going through, it was so refreshing to witness a very happy place, full of laughter and good intentions. This is testament to the amazing team who keep those doors open night after night and offer support to the residents, from cooking a much-welcome meal to simply being there as someone to talk to.

This is a vital service and, thanks to The Wallich, it can continue to be an integral part of the ongoing challenge of preventing homelessness in Cardiff’.