Homelessness and need
Homelessness and need

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Homelessness and need

2 Schemes run by Swansea Cyrenians in 1999

A hostel, which provided accommodation for 13 people, predominantly men, in individual rooms and an overflow shed. It was run in partnership with the Family Housing Association. Three-quarters of its funding came from the Welsh Assembly, and a quarter from the local authority.

Another important source of revenue was Housing Benefit, through which residents were able to pay their accommodation charges. This varied enormously. Residents classified as ‘vulnerable’, like those with mental health problems, were entitled to far more benefit than those who were not. The money available through Housing Benefit was decreasing, while running costs were increasing. This placed the hostel under financial pressures.

The average length of stay in the hostel was 6–8 weeks. The idea was that people accommodated in the hostel would then move on to one of the ‘floating’ support schemes, and eventually into a permanent housing association tenancy. Not surprisingly, of course, things rarely worked out this way.

The organisation also ran two ‘floating support schemes’ in partnership with Gwalia Housing Association. There were six tenants in each scheme, living in independent flats. Each scheme had a support worker helping people to live independently. The idea was that the support should be gradually tailed off, so that the tenant could then move on to a permanent tenancy. Often, however, the tenant needed constant support, and many may have had difficulty in sustaining an independent tenancy.

An outreach scheme was set up to support rough sleepers. This was a van supplying food, clothes, equipment and advice to rough sleepers. Its aim was to help people off the street by advocating on their behalf, and arranging appointments with appropriate agencies. It was funded under the ‘Winter Watch’ programme, together with some money from the Welsh Assembly, and ran in the winter months only.

An ‘arts project’ and a ‘furniture project’ were funded by a fixed-term Lottery grant. The arts scheme was run by a local artist and writer, Alan Perry, who was initially artist-in-residence at the hostel, and funded by the Arts Council. The arts project enabled homeless people to develop their creative skills and express themselves through painting, photography and writing.

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