Vangelynn JOMEC Blog

Homeless but not hopeless

What do you think can be found in a bus? The majority would probably answer a driver and passengers. There is a bus, which furnishes care, love and hope to the street homeless, called ‘Cardiff Outreach Winter Bus’ launched by The Salvation Army.

Leigh, 33, who has wandered the streets for 5 years and is finally being taken care of, said: “The bus has changed my life. I can get food and hot drinks; it has stopped me from shop lifting.”

The epidemic of homelessness in Cardiff has risen tremendously and has posed a continual challenge to the local council. In response to the crisis of homelessness, the Salvation Army in partnership with City Centre Team (CCT), has launched the night winter bus service project to cushion the situation before it gets out of hand.

This issue was particularly serious in Cardiff due to the lack of affordable rented property rendered by soaring house prices and a shortage of council properties.

However, many people also end up on the streets as a result of traumatic life experiences; breakdown in relationship with partners and family, long term illnesses, drug abuse or unemployment.

“Finding food and shelter, avoiding violence, coping with ill health and loneliness can take all of a person’s energy.” said John Mcinnes, staff from Salvation Army.

The bus possess two main functions. Its main usage is to serve as an evening time respite, a place where rough sleepers can rest, refreshment and assistance. Furthermore, it also provides a warm and safe environment where people can escape from the dangers and bitter cold weather of the street.

In addition, the bus also acts as a platform for other agencies to provide services to these vulnerable people who previously have failed to access mainstream services for assistance. It includes a health care service with a voluntary nurse regularly based on the bus supplying medication, vaccinations and primary health care.

Moreover, some social workers frequently patronise the bus to undertake community care assessments and counselling sessions. “They need a trustworthy figure in whom to confide their inner feelings; and through communication and various need assessments we can determine and address the problems of homeless individuals’ accordingly.” said Elaine, voluntary worker.

“An internet-based computer system, E-Roof is being used to record all the details about service users’ needs and support provided by relevant agencies, this enables us to match the individuals’ requirements efficiently.” said John.

“I was shivering in a phone box when a friend of mine gave me the outreach’s number. They offered me an emergency bag space, and I regularly visit the outreach worker to seek advice for my alcohol problem. I am now settled in the James Street Centre and continue to access support.” Said Anthony, street sleeper.

In the 2002 since the outreach first went on the road, an estimated 2000 homeless people have been helped. By raising public awareness and support, it is hoped that this figure can be increased in the future. (495 words)


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