The essential journalist news source
Improving our homelessness services

Cardiff Council joined partners in the health service and the third sector on visits to Glasgow and Helsinki to discover what both cities are doing to combat rough sleeping and address the health needs of vulnerable homeless people.


Both Glasgow and Helsinki have won praise recently for the way they are combatting homelessness and addressing complex needs and the Cardiff team's visit was designed to gather information on schemes which might make a positive difference in Wales' capital.


The visits are part of an ongoing review of homelessness services for single people in Cardiff which aims to ensure the best possible support is in place to help individuals rebuild their lives.


Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Cllr Lynda Thorne, said: "We have done much in recent years to improve our homelessness services and we can be proud of the help and support that is available in Cardiff for homeless people. However, we want to be sure we are doing everything we can to help the vulnerable and those with complex needs. It's important we are always looking at fresh ideas and new ways of doing things. We are currently working with all our partners in this field to seek out best practice to help inform a review of the current service.


"Our visits were very insightful and we saw examples of good practice and some innovative approaches to addressing complex needs. While neither city has solved the problem, we learned a great deal and were inspired by the work being done there.


"I was extremely pleased to be joined by our partners on the visits. As I have said before, this is more than a housing issue and the solution isn't solely providing a roof over someone's head. I was very impressed by the enthusiasm of the group and the clear will to work in partnership, across service boundaries, to address homelessness in Cardiff."


The ongoing review is being carried out by council officers from Housing and Social Services and representatives from the health service and the third sector.


The delegation visited a homelessness assessment centre and a drug crisis centre in Scotland while in Finland, they learned about various programmes tackling homelessness, including Finland's Housing First approach, securing housing for women and job opportunities for tenants.


Cardiff, like many other cities across the UK, is facing growing demand for homelessness services. The city has a positive and proactive approach to helping people who sleep rough to get their lives back on track and last year, the council helped 157 people off the streets. However, despite the availability of accommodation and support in the city, a large number of people still remain on the streets and new individuals experiencing homelessness are presenting to the service all the time.


Cardiff already has a wide range of provision to support people experiencing homelessness, with261 hostel places for single homeless people and 98 emergency beds and 353 supported accommodation units. During the winter, there are additional emergency bed spaces.


The council also operates a Housing First scheme which moves entrenched rough sleepers straight from the streets into a secure, self-contained home first. Wraparound help to address individual's needs and appropriate support are also offered as part of the scheme.


Alongside accommodation, a variety of holistic services are available on a daily basis including medical and drug and alcohol services. A Multi-Disciplinary Team, which includes a drug and alcohol worker, nurses, social workers, therapeutic worker, advocate and counsellor, peer mentors and access to rapid-prescribing services, has also been established to help individuals to address their underlying issues.


Diversionary events including coffee mornings, gardening projects and a boxing club have also been set up to provide meaningful activities and informal opportunities for support workers to engage with individuals experiencing homelessness.


Cllr Thorne added: "We want to make sure that we're doing everything we can to help people to turn their lives around, so thereview will continue into the autumn and will include a further search for best practice and partner consultation.


"We will also be seeking the views of those with direct experience of homelessness and rough sleeping to help us develop a clear vision for future service provision."