In an effort to widen the conversation around the issue of homelessness in Swindon, we held our first coffee morning, in partnership with Swindon Nightshelter, on the 27th January 2018 at the Gateway Furniture Project. 58 individuals came to meet us throughout the morning, which shows the concerns of Swindonians in the issue and their willingness to help.
We took this opportunity to present our charity, our services, to share the latest facts and figures regarding rough sleeping in England but specifically in our town (see below) but most importantly what we can all do to make a positive change.
Graeme, our CEO, says: “During the last seven years, homelessness in all its forms has risen uncontrollably fuelled by changes to benefits, a flawed housing policy with an over reliance on private landlords, the austerity agenda and the cutting of vital services. This has created a perfect storm where demand is at its highest and resources at their lowest. Nearly 130,000 children spent last Christmas in temporary accommodation such as B&Bs and hostels. In Swindon alone 45 individuals were counted sleeping rough in a snapshot count in November. Over the course of a year this equates to over 150 different people forced to sleep rough.
Neither the government in Westminster nor Swindon Council have a joined up strategy to make best use of resources. Decisions are often made where the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. There are some great ideas and initiatives which in isolation are not sustainable. What we need is a plan!
Well we’ve got a plan, to reduce the number of people on our streets, to improve people’s life chances and get them back on the road to recovery. To provide support and housing whilst they develop their confidence, skills and self-esteem and find work, build relationships and hold down successful tenancies. All of this requires time as well as money. You can help in so many ways. Write to your MP or ward councillor, do a sponsored swim to raise money and awareness, talk to friends and colleagues about the true situation, volunteer in one of the many and varied roles and make a practical difference but most of all don’t be silent or complicit. Homelessness is not inevitable!”