St David’s Day may have arrived – and with it, the daffodils and the first stirrings of Spring – but for those sleeping rough on the streets of Wales – the misery is far from over. The Wallich is extremely concerned to see no decrease in the number of rough sleepers over the past month compared to previous years. We have released two videos highlighting the issue.
Sleeping rough can be extremely dangerous at any time of the year but during the winter months – public concern for rough sleepers reaches its peak as many think of having to bed down in freezing conditions. Undoubtedly the cold is dangerous – however, the rain is as much of an issue in Wales as the cold, with the struggle to keep dry and 1st World War diseases such as trench foot a daily reality. This video illustrates the hardships caused by persistent wet weather:
The first point of contact for most rough sleepers in Cardiff is The Wallich Rough Sleepers Intervention Team. This video highlights the work they do to support people and shows they offer much more than a bacon roll:
Between November and March, many local authorities and charities open up their rooms to people sleeping rough, allowing them a place to go out of the cold and the wet. This may be as little as providing a space on the floor on which to sleep but could be a lifesaver for someone with a health condition that would be made worse by bad weather. Importantly however, these temporary provisions provide support and are more than just opening up a building to provide shelter.
These services, known as cold weather provision (CWP), are generally taken up by rough sleepers and this normally sees the numbers sleeping on the streets fall during winter. In Cardiff during the winters of 2013/14 and 2014/15 The Wallich RSIT saw the average number of people sleeping rough on the streets of Cardiff per night fall to 6 and 8 respectively. Therefore it is extremely concerning that the average number of people sleeping rough per night only fell to 19 in January 2016, from 22 in December and rose again to 21 in February.
The year on year winter increase follows a 64% rise in rough sleeping on the streets of Cardiff between 2013 and 2015 and a 30% increase in rough sleeping across England between 2014 and 2015. These worrying trends are a result of many factors including a squeeze on housing benefit, lack of affordable housing and cuts to homelessness services. In response The Wallich is campaigning to protect and extend the rights of homeless people in Wales and is calling on all candidates in the Welsh Assembly elections in May to pledge to end homelessness.
To find out more, visit: Our Campaign Pages
To make a donation to support rough sleepers, visit: Our Winter Appeal