Why are there so many people on the street in Cardiff and why are numbers increasing?
Cardiff has seen similar increases in rough sleeping to other UK cities but there is no one reason that has contributed to the rise in numbers.
Factors such as relationship breakdown, the rising cost of housing, welfare reform as well as the increasing prevalence of mental health conditions or substance abuse issues, can all contribute to an individual losing their home.
Is it true that there are so many people on the streets because there is not enough space for everyone that needs it?
There is a wide range of accommodation in the city and enough space for all the individuals sleeping on the streets.
We have 261 hostels spaces and more than 350 places in supported accommodation including larger facilities in the city centre and smaller sites, outside the city centre. There are also 78 emergency overnight stay places, including a number of small, self-contained and lockable pods where people can begin to engage with services to address their needs while we work with them on a longer-term housing solution.
From November until March, cold weather provision - currently an extra 105 places, are available at various locations. This can be floor space at some of the larger hostels or camp beds at church shelters. All provision is manned around the clock to provide support and to keep residents safe. In addition to this, we also have contingency arrangements to be able to open even more spaces if demand increases.
If there is enough room, why don't people access the available accommodation and remain sleeping out?
Rough sleeping is a very complicated issue and addressing the matter is not as easy as providing a roof over someone's head at night. Many people who sleep rough have complex needs including mental health conditions and substance misuse issues, as well as often chaotic lifestyles, that make it difficult for them to cope with the prospect of coming inside.
If someone refuses help, what happens then?
Entrenched rough sleepers can spend long periods of time on the streets before accepting any help, but our homeless outreach team work with them on the streets every day trying to engage individuals and support them to access services. Our aim is to bring people off the streets and into services which can help them turn their lives around.
What is there for people sleeping on the streets to do in the day?
Our partner organisation, The Huggard Centre, run aday centre that is open 365 days of the year. We are also working with partners in the city to set up activities clients can attend during the day where we can engage with them and begin to address their needs in an informal way.
Why can't you just open some empty building in the city and allow rough sleepers to come in there?
There is already enough accommodation in the city with 261 hostel spaces, 78 emergency overnight stay spaces and 105 cold weather provision places. There has been availability in this provision on every night throughout the winter and we even have extra contingency plans to open more space if necessary. So there is no need to open empty buildings when services already exist.
I've heard about Housing First being the best way to support people sleeping rough.
What is it?
Housing First offers permanent, affordable housing for individuals who have experienced chronic rough sleeping ie, they have been on the streets for some time and other pathways into accommodation have previously been unsuccessful for their needs.
Housing First gives people self-contained permanent accommodation, multi-agency support is available so that they can begin addressing any issues they may have.
In Cardiff, The Salvation Army runs a Housing First project and the Council is also running its own scheme. While Housing First is a good model and is the best solution for some individuals, our hostels and supported housing also help many people to turn their life around. 1400 people used our single person's homeless accommodation in 2017/18.
People I've spoken to on the streets say they can't take up accommodation offered to them because they have a dog, don't want to be split up from their partner or friends?
Many of the accommodation facilities in the city accept dogs including 5 front line hostels, and this includes emergency cold weather provision so people accessing these places can bring their pet as well. We have accommodation for couples and there are also projects in the city where friends who want to stay together and would otherwise refuse accommodation if they were split up, can access accommodation together. For example, our Ty Nos project enables friends to access emergency overnight accommodation in pairs or threes.
Some of the people I've spoken to in the city centre say they won't go to hostels because they aren't safe and will have to mix with other residents who have alcohol or drug misuse issues. Is that true?
When vulnerable individuals access accommodation, their complex needs and sometimes challenging behaviour are not left behind on the streets and so some hostels can seem busy and noisy. Hostels are staffed 24/7 to ensure the safety of residents. Also, there is a range of other provision available and those sleeping rough can access services at sites away from the larger hostels. For individuals wishing to remain abstinent, there are spaces in ‘dry' projects where residents are not allowed to use substances.
If someone remains on the streets, isn't it better for them to be inside a tent rather than having no protection from the elements at all?
We are really concerned for the welfare and safety of individuals who are sleeping in tents in the city centre.Our outreach team have noticed a marked shift and people are less willing to accept our support and even individuals who previously agreed to a place are declining offers of assistance once they have obtained a tent. In December we helped only four people off the streets when the average is 15 people a month.
People might feel safer inside a tent, but the reality is that without other adequate protection they are still exposed to the harsh conditions of sleeping rough. Tragically, two of the last four rough sleeper deaths in the city happened in tents and there have also been instances of tents catching fire.
Tents cannot begin to provide an adequate substitute for the warm and dry accommodation we have in the city, but more importantly they can stop people accessing the professional support services that can help rough sleepers turn their lives around.
Why are you clearing tents from the city centre?
We have started removing abandoned tents in the city centre. Many of them belong to individuals who have taken up offers of accommodation and they have given their consent for their tents to be removed. Tents are being monitored on a daily basis and once our outreach team and the police are satisfied tents have been abandoned they will also be removed. The Council is clear about its duty of care to rough sleepers in the city. We only want to save lives and help people. With that in mind we will work with our partners to do whatever is needed to get people using the wide range of available accommodation and professional services which can get help them back on their feet. What matters most is getting people off the street and that is what we have to focus on moving forward.
Is it wrong to give money to people on the streets?
Everyone has the right to make their own decision about whether to give money to individuals. We know that people are very concerned about the vulnerable individuals they see and want to help. We want people to understand that giving money directly to individuals is enabling them to maintain their street-based lifestyle and they are less likely to engage with the services we have on offer that can help them back on their feet.
The Council supports the city's alternative giving campaign, Give DIFFerently, which helps to move people away from, or prevents them from returning to life on the streets by providing small grants.
Are there any other ways to help?
You can help people who are rough sleeping in Cardiff by supporting the schemes that provide practical and specialist assistance to people in the city
For more information, visit