Helping the homeless in Bridgend County Borough
Posted on: Monday 25 July 2022
Bridgend County Borough Council and its partners carry out a wide range of work to support people who are homeless and to provide services designed to help them get off the street – so why do we still see some people sleeping rough?
Councillor Rhys Goode, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations, believes that people become homeless for a wide variety of reasons.
At the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, Welsh Government placed new responsibilities upon local councils to ensure that homeless people had access to temporary accommodation.
Since then, Bridgend County Borough Council has set up a weekly meeting that brings statutory and third sector partners together as part of a ‘Homeless Cell’. This provides a multi-agency approach for identifying people who may be sleeping rough and offering them tailored support and help. At the cutting edge of this approach is the Rough Sleepers Interventions Team, which is organised by homeless charity The Wallich.
With a breakfast run service that operates 365 days a year, staff seek out rough sleepers or respond to Street Link notifications of people who may require help, and ensure that they have food, hot drinks, warm clothing, toiletries and more. They also help them to access further support services, including a drop-in centre provided by the Wallich which is based in Park Street. Between Monday and Friday, this offers a safe space where longer-term support work can be undertaken alongside access to washing and laundry facilities, telephones, computers and more.”Councillor Rhys Goode, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations
In addition to the council’s own statutory homelessness provision, a wide range of other services are commissioned using Housing Support Grant funding sourced from Welsh Government.
This early intervention scheme works to prevent people from becoming homeless, stabilises their housing situation, and helps those at risk of homelessness find and keep accommodation.
In 2022-23, the council invested £7.8m of housing support grant funding into such efforts to both prevent and relieve homelessness. As recently as this week, Cabinet agreed to provide the Wallich’s rough sleepers service with more than £91,760 a year for the next two years, while Llamau’s family mediation project, which keeps families together, will receive more than £29,500 a year up to 2024.
In the last year alone, the Llamau project has supported 72 local households, and the Wallich’s solutions centre service has helped 194 separate households that were threatened with homelessness in the last 24 months. Their support doesn’t end at a telephone call, either – during the recent heatwave when temperatures hit record highs, they were out there making sure that rough sleepers had access to water, shade, sunscreen and more besidesCouncillor Rhys Goode, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations
However, not all individuals accept the support and help that is offered to them due to complex personal circumstances. In some cases, people may sleep rough through choice, or because they have been asked to leave accommodation due to posing an unacceptable risk to staff and residents.
Every effort is made to prevent someone from becoming homeless again.
Both South Wales Police and Probation are key members of the multi-agency Homeless Cell and contribute to the wider community safety agenda so that when enforcement action has to be taken – for example, under the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act - it is done so with a true understanding of the circumstances, and is never intended to criminalise rough sleeping.
Support is also available from a regionally commissioned health outreach team which provides specialist help to people with mental health or substance misuse issues.Councillor Rhys Goode, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations
Finally, in addition to traditional temporary accommodation and as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted, the council has been providing rough sleepers with basic shelter in the form of emergency pods.
The number of rough sleepers in Bridgend County Borough at any one time is usually quite small. This means that the individuals are generally well known by the support services who continue to try and help them, and to balance their often complex needs with those of the wider community.
Bridgend County Borough Council works closely alongside a number of partners to ensure that anyone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless can receive full and extensive support. Anyone who thinks they might be facing homelessness should contact the council as soon as possible as this increases the chances that we can help and prevent the problem from getting worse.
We will always do everything we can to support people who are homeless, and to prevent them from having to sleep rough.”Councillor Rhys Goode, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations
For more information about homelessness support in Bridgend County Borough, visit the council’s advice and prevention pages or one of the services listed below:
Anyone who is concerned about a rough sleeper can report it via the www.streetlink.org.uk service.