by Tehreem Sultan
Following the absolutely devastating Storm Ciara which saw a massive drop in temperature and strong winds, we as a society once again failed to ‘see’ and ‘unintentionally’ neglected the plight of those sleeping rough. Every time we’re in the city centre, we so carelessly pass by those who are homeless as we go about our day Covered all over in the headlines and news channels, were the details of destruction Ciara brought; power shortages, delayed travel services, large coastal waves, wreaking havoc in every corner of the UK. Whilst these storms are of great concern to us, these problems are minor to the plight of those who are homeless – who suffer day and night whatever the weather conditions.
“It should be of paramount importance”
Named by the Met Office, Storm Ciara has resulted in National Severe Wind Warnings across the United Kingdom, and was accompanied by a variety of severe weather events such floods and blizzards, as well as heavy rainfall in some areas. In amongst the chaos – where some were considering contacting their insurance companies for damages – there were individuals living amongst us with absolutely nothing to lose, those without a roof on their heads – the homeless.
While the majority has turned a blind eye to this pressing issue, a few coastal town churches in Llandudno and Colwyn Bay, opened their doors for the homeless during the adverse weather. With a continuous increase year-by-year in the number of people sleeping rough in Wales, we should be outraged and shocked at how there has been a 17% rise from last year alone – with an approximate number of 405 rough sleepers in Wales. The Housing Minister, Julie James said that “if the Welsh Government sees an increase in its budget from Westminster, that there’ll be more money for a fund considered important in tackling homelessness”. There is a vital need for a renewed focus on this significant matter, it should be of paramount importance.
No individual in society should have to sleep rough, it is absolutely inhumane that every year the number of homeless people increases, putting a greater risk to many lives. Recent research indicates homeless people die at an average of 44 years of age, shockingly low. This situation needs to be tackled correctly, by conducting a thorough investigation to analyze the root cause of homelessness; poverty, lack of affordable housing and unemployment. Helping people into accommodation – supporting charities and public services can all work together to end rough sleeping. The right measures need to be introduced to ensure every vulnerable person has a safe home to call their own; allowing them to access services and to fulfil their needs. This is not a temporary post-storm issue, but rather is an ongoing battle which needs to come to an end – because homelessness is devastating, dangerous and destructive.