Help for homeless people in Swansea this Christmas

Measures are being put in place to help homeless people across Swansea through the holiday season.

Swansea Council is working hard with partners to ensure that all will be fed, can have a roof over their head and will be helped in other ways.

The Swansea Together food delivery and takeaway service plans to cater for all those in temporary accommodation or sleeping rough through Christmas week.

The aim is to ensure that those unable to collect meals on any day – including December 25 – will receive a delivery.

Swansea Together is an emergency network of volunteer groups, agencies, healthcare professionals and council departments that provide regular support for the vulnerably-housed in our city, and particularly the homeless.

It sees food prepared and distributed safely seven days a week. The Matthew’s House charity is a driving force in this network, with the council a key partner.

The council is also helping to distribute clothes to the homeless. The distribution is being coordinated by the charity Zac’s Place which seeks donations of only new socks and underwear as the Swansea public have generously donated a sufficient quantity of other clothes items.

Additionally, the council is working with Zac’s Place to arrange for other important supplies to be delivered by volunteers to homeless people in B&B accommodation during Christmas week. A number of people are currently in this accommodation.

The deliveries, part funded by the council, could include gift vouchers for high street food retailers and items donated by the public. Christmas cards will be sent from partner organisations that have supported the individuals this year. Tenants of the council’s supported housing projects have already received similar supplies.

Andrea Lewis, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for homes, energy and service transformation and joint deputy leader, said: “People in our communities who are homeless through no fault of their own – or who are living in temporary accommodation – will be very much in our thoughts this Christmas.

“We want to ensure that they will be fed, can have a roof over their head and will be helped in other ways.”

Alyson Pugh, cabinet member for supporting communities, said: “We’ve worked hard all year to get people off the street and to give them a roof over their heads. This work will not stop now.

“We’re thankful to partners who are working with us to ensure that there is help for the homeless this Christmas.”

Homelessness and rough sleeping in Swansea is being drastically reduced thanks to ongoing efforts by the council and partners.

Concerns about a rise in figures when the pandemic hit were met with a pledge by the council to do all it could to prevent people becoming homeless.

A survey of rough sleeping has shown that up to five people are rough sleeping each night at present, compared to 2019 when figures were around 18-20.

Despite the impact on services since the start of the pandemic and the lockdown in March, the council and partners have continued to prepare empty properties for those needing homes.

Latest figures show that more than 200 households have left temporary accommodation for more secure safe housing since March.

Thom Lynch, of Matthew’s House, said: “We have been blown away by the partnership support this year whilst coordinating Swansea Together.

“We hope for it to continue and strengthen as we do our best to remember the vulnerably-housed in our city.

“We will continue this support all through Christmas, with support from truly wonderful partners.

“We thank everyone who has supported Matthew’s House and Swansea Together this year, your kindness for our community is inspiring!”

Sean Stillman, of Zac’s Place, said: “Our shared efforts continue to be effective and thrive in the city due to the generosity of the community we are part of – I thank supporters so much for this.

“One of the ways we can be most effective in offering the best support we can is to receive donated items that are needed right now.

“This Christmas, we need new underwear, new socks and vouchers that can be used in shops that sell toiletries, clothes, food or takeaways.

“People who’d like to donate this Christmas are asked bring in these items only. Our team of volunteers will be pleased to receive them. I thank people across our communities so much for their support – it is appreciated by those who benefit.”

Those wishing to donate new socks, new underwear or food shop vouchers should contact Matthew’s House – friends@matthewshouse.org.uk, 07708115903 – or drop them off at the Zac’s Place van in George Street on either December 21 (7-8pm) or December 28 (1.30-2pm). No other clothes, toiletries or food can be accepted at this time. Covid-safe procedures mean that guests cannot enter the building.

Meanwhile, the annual Together for Christmas event hosted by JR Events at the Brangwyn Hall and supported by the council can’t go ahead this year due to pandemic restrictions.

JR Events will consider hosting an event when it is safe to do so in line with future government guidelines.

The firms’s Jessica Rice said: “At JR we love hosting this event and seeing the benefits it brings to vulnerable people in our communities – it’s without doubt our favourite of the year, and something we feel privileged to be able to host.

“We’re sure that people will understand that it has not been possible to hold it this year due to the pandemic. We gave it a great deal of thought before making the difficult decision.

“Now, we’re considering a similar event once the pandemic ends.

“In the meantime, we’re working hard this year to bring some cheer to children on the wards of hospitals in Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. The JR team will be delivering wrapped selection boxes to children who face Christmas Day in hospital.”

Measures are also being put in place to ensure that there is support for other vulnerable individuals such as tenants of sheltered accommodation across Swansea.

The council wants to ensure that difficulties with loneliness and mental health issues are addressed.

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