Matthew's House

Swansea Labour driving forward schemes to help homeless people this Christmas

The Swansea Labour council administration is putting measures in place to help homeless people across the city through the holiday season.

The 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.

Swansea Labour’s 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.

Labour Cllr 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.”

Labour Cllr 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.”

Zac's Place

Zac’s Place

This year the annual Together for Christmas event hosted by JR Events at the Brangwyn Hall and supported by the council cannot 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.

Labour Cllr Rob Stewart, the leader of the Council, said: “Of course it is disappointing Together at Christmas cannot go ahead this year because of Covid, but that does not mean that our commitment to helping the homeless and vulnerable in the city has changed.

“Our aim as always is that there will always be safe and warm beds available to those that need them.

“Homelessness is a very complex issue and the reasons people find themselves homeless, at risk of being homeless or vulnerable are varied. But we will be there for them.”

Swansea Together 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.

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.”

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.

 

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