The number of people living on Wales' streets has risen again
The number of people living on the streets of south Wales has gone up again.
Charity The Wallich counts the number of people their teams see while working on the streets.
They have rough sleeper intervention teams in Cardiff , Newport , Bridgend and Swansea and say their contact with people living street-based lifestyles is rising.
People living a “street-based lifestyle” are defined as those who spend most of their time on the streets.
It includes people sleeping rough but also applies to individuals who are spending time in emergency or temporary accommodation, or otherwise unsuitably housed.
Between November 2016 and October 2017, the total number of people supported by The Wallich was 2,611 – a 36% increase on the 1,924 people supported in 2015-16.
Every intervention team has said it has seen an increase in contacts ranging from 24% to 77%.
They found that their contact is mainly with men, however 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.
The average age of those on the streets is 40-42.
The charity say that the provision of other street-based services during winter can alter figures.
In very cold conditions, some organisations make additional bed spaces available which reduces the number of people the charity’s staff see.
A spokeswoman said that anecdotally, staff report that the number of people sleeping rough tends to be higher during summer, when the weather is warmer.
The report echoes trends of last week’s Welsh Government rough sleeper count, also showing an increase.
In that, local authorities reported there were 345 people sleeping rough across Wales, during a two-week count in October 2017. That is a 10% rise on the year before.
During a one-night count the following month, local authorities reported 188 individuals sleeping rough across Wales – an increase of a third on the previous year.
The charity’s chief executive Lindsay Cordery-Bruce 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 charity ask people who see someone sleeping rough to use the StreetLink service.
Anyone can report seeing someone so that council staff can follow up and check on that person.
Anyone can register themselves, or someone else who is rough sleeping, on StreetLink via telephone on 0300 500 0914, the app, or the website at www.streetlink.org.uk