By Vicky Witts | Advice Editor
Homelessness throughout Cardiff as well as much of the rest of the UK, has constantly been a problem, with local charities and councils often struggling to find solutions to the large numbers of homeless people living on the streets. In Cardiff alone the Welsh government estimated that there were around 100 people sleeping on the streets throughout 2019.
With many people having been asked to donate clothing, food, or some of their time to volunteering before, whether at work or school, it may seem like individual contributions will not help to fight current problems with homelessness in the UK.
However, whilst long-term studies such as those soon to be held by Cardiff University may be able to change the state of homelessness on a large scale, there are small actions that you can do to contribute to positive change for those who are homeless.
Volunteering and societies
Volunteering is one of the most common and well-known methods for helping to fight homelessness, and it is particularly useful if you know that you want to be direct with your actions but may not know where to start.
Volunteering for specific charities such as The Wallich or Shelter Cymru can also teach you the best and most effective ways to help someone who is homeless so that your contributions will have a more positive and long term impact. Charities such as these often have volunteer application forms on their websites, so it is a relatively simple process if this is your desired method for taking action to help the homeless.
Acting as a volunteer is not solely linked to large time commitments with big charities however, as there are many societies and organisations within universities which aim to act against homelessness and are more considerate of a student’s schedule.
For example, at Cardiff University there are groups such as the Help for Homeless society, Waste Not Want Not project and Periods in Poverty project as well as many others, which offer various volunteering and fundraising opportunities throughout the year that are specifically focused on Cardiff’s issues with homelessness.
Donating food or clothing to charities
If you feel that you would like to contribute to the fight against homelessness but without the time commitment of volunteering, donating food or clothing to charity collections may be a suitable course of action.
Such contributions not only prevent waste created from throwing away unwanted clothes, but also can help those without the funds or access to purchase food, especially as the coronavirus pandemic has led to shortages on some food products which may have made people more reluctant to donate.
Donating food or clothing is also not a difficult course of action as there are often donation points within local supermarkets, or charities such as Huggard who detail on their website how you can donate products such as clothes to those in need.
Taking time to talk
Although it may seem a daunting idea, taking the time to stop and speak to someone who is homeless, even if it is just about their day, may have a positive impact on their mental wellbeing. On their website, The Big Issue notes that the “long hours of loneliness, isolation and sleep deprivation” associated with being homeless can put a huge strain on someone’s mental wellbeing.
With the added fears and distancing measures created by the coronavirus pandemic, many people may be less likely to stop and chat with someone who is homeless. Therefore, by simply stopping to talk socially distanced to someone in need, you may be relieving some of the strain on their mental health that could have been caused by living on the streets throughout the pandemic.