Politics

The fight against homelessness in Wales

Sleeping rough. Source: Florian Rohart (via Flickr)

Budget, schemes and numbers

By Charlotte Raymond

On the streets of Wales, it is undeniable that homelessness is an ever increasing problem. It was estimated that during the period of 2017-2018, at least 25,937 people had experienced homelessness, an increase on the year before with the number only set to rise again. The Welsh Government have recently proposed plans in order to prevent and tackle the issue, which is unfortunately affecting the lives of many people in Wales.

One of the initiatives being supported by Welsh Government funding is a pilot project called Housing First, which offers support to homeless people with specific needs and health problems, including mental health problems and substance misuse. The scheme has seen a £90,000 investment from the Welsh Government, with the aim of helping people move into a permanent residence and learn how to successfully handle their own property, while recognising and assisting with the specific needs which they have. Rebecca Evans, the Welsh Government’s Housing and Regeneration Minister, said, “homelessness and rough sleeping is a Welsh Government priority, and we are investing record amounts to address it”.

The Government’s ‘Innovative Housing’ programme is enacting 22 schemes in total, one of which will see shipping containers transformed into housing for homeless people in Wales. Lynda Thorne, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, stated, “the shipping container project is a quick and cost-effective solution to providing homes for those in need in the city. They also give us the flexibility to respond to changing demand as the homes can be relocated and reused”.

Youth homelessness is also recognised as being one of the biggest challenges to face the Welsh Government and last week, proposals were set out in order to tackle this. It was announced on November 20 that the Welsh Government’s extra £10 million investment into the issue would be used in order to address youth homelessness and to take action sooner to prevent young people from becoming homeless in the first place, for example the Youth Support Grant and the Innovation Fund.

It is clear to see that the Welsh Government is unquestionably taking an active approach in attempting to deal with the sheer scale of homelessness across Wales, which is only set to increase year on year. Whilst the ideas to prevent and address the problem are evident, time will only tell on how successful the plans have been and whether the Welsh Government are really doing enough to address such a serious issue for the homeless in Wales.

Plans to tackle youth homelessness

By Hannah Priest

Recent statistics from 2017-2018 show that there are almost 6,000 young homeless people in Wales, out of approximately 35,000 in the UK as a whole. In 2017, Wales’ First Minister, Carwyn Jones, announced that an extra £10 million will be provided by the Welsh Government to support the mission to end youth homelessness in Wales by 2027. This funding is in conjunction to the previously allocated £20 million. During the past month, Carwyn Jones has announced how this money will be spent and the specific actions the Welsh Government are planning to undertake in order to tackle this unfortunate social issue throughout Wales.

Of the recently announced budget, a large sum of £4.8 million will go towards the new Innovation Fund which aims to help plan and build new housing options for youth facing homelessness in Wales. Additionally, £3.7 million will go towards what is called the ‘early intervention strategy’. The Welsh Government plans to introduce this scheme throughout schools and colleges across the country in order to try and curb homelessness amongst young people by providing them with the sufficient support and materials required before they reach the point of experiences homelessness.

Furthermore, £1.1 million of the new funding will be used to train school-based counsellors, education welfare officers and youth workers, enabling them to provide the most effective support for vulnerable young adults.

Carwyn Jones has stated that £1 million will also be invested into the already existing St David’s Day Fund, which helps provide practical and financial support to care leavers who are seeking independence for the first time. The St David’s Day fund has had a significant impact on 1,900 care leavers since last year, provided opportunities such as driving lessons to help individuals get to work as well as deposits for first time home-buyers.

What is more, £250,000 will be used to improve targeted communication and engagement programmes. The Government plans to work alongside the charity Youth Homelessness Cymru to guarantee that the targeted messages are reaching the correct individuals.

All of these new schemes and support programmes aim to provide effective and long-time help for some of Wales’ most vulnerable individuals, which will hopefully provide immense aid to the Government’s already ongoing battle against youth homelessness.

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