City centre businesses can help solve the problem of homelessness by engaging with organisations working with the homeless and helping rather than seeing it as a problem, according to volunteers in Swansea.
Local businessman and volunteer John Davies organised a litter picking day in the city centre. Some 25 volunteers, around half of them homeless, joined volunteers mainly from Plaid Cymru, spent the morning picking up litter before being given hot food and drink supplied by the restaurant the Smoke Haus.
The event happened on 10 November against a backdrop of recent allegations that the police have been “heavy handed” with the homeless in Swansea. John Davies, who runs the Sunday Night Plaid Cymru Food for the Homeless, along with charities such as Shelter Cymru, have been involved in a campaign to change this and prevent the police dealing with the homeless in this manner.
After the success of the litter pick, Davies wants to organise similar events through the winter months and get more businesses involved. On the back of such experiences, he believes homeless people can prove they remain willing to contribute to society and some of them could get jobs on the back of it.
He is also organising a football match in January between homeless people from Swansea and a team comprising volunteers, staff from Plaid Cymru, staff from the Smoke Haus and local businesses with a similar mentality – again to raise awareness of the issue.
“It is about showing society that homeless people remain engaged with society and are willing to help,” Davies said. “We were very grateful to the Smoke Haus for supporting us that day. It illustrates that businesses can help and engage helping solve the problem in the process rather than simply see it as an issue they want removed from their own doorstep.”
Mark Power, the co-owner of the Smoke Haus, agreed.
“The issue of homelessness is close to my heart and I was delighted to be able to help,” he said. “But it also goes to show that many positives are possible when local business engage with the problem rather than just ignoring it or seeing it as a negative. My view is that the entire community has a duty to help and that includes the business community too.”