Christmas is often the hardest time for those living on the streets, with the festive period presenting opportunities to reflect on what they do not have. Combined with the colder weather and limited shelter, it is not difficult to understand the additional pressure of homelessness organisations and charities.
Elaine Ballard, Chief Executive of Taff Housing Association asks for help from local businesses this festive period to combat homelessness in Wales, and provide shelter for those in need:
“In March last year, I wrote a piece saying ‘Homelessness is not just for Christmas’, when we opened up a temporary day centre in the snow. The local community rallied round as most of us staff were snowed in away from the office. It was a brilliant feeling for all involved that they had done something practical to help.
Well, since then we’ve worked with lots of homeless people, and also met some amazing organisations who’ve come up with practical solutions to the problems of rough sleeping.
One of these is Amazing Grace Spaces, who are a small charity based in Newport. Stuart, who leads the project has been helping street homeless people for many years, came up with the idea of building small emergency ‘pods’ for emergency overnight accommodation. I’ll be honest, they’re not pretty, but they ARE safe. We’ve seen some terrible stories in the press about rough sleepers in tents being attacked – people on the streets run this risk whether they’re in the open or even sometimes in hostels. And for some vulnerable people, hostels are not the answer.
So, we at Taff Housing Association offered to buy a couple of the emergency pods (and also their much swankier 1 bed modular container units, but that’s a story for another time!). The problem is, we need safe locations to put them in, and none of our partners so far have been able to help.
Homelessness isn’t just for Christmas, but if there is any Christmas spirit out there, and someone has some space for two pods, we’d love to hear from them. Amazing Grace Spaces is a wonderful organisation, and it would be fantastic to help them help homeless people this Christmas.”