#InPoverty: Employment may be the final frontier for Cardiff’s homelessness

As homeless people struggle to find shelter on Cardiff’s streets, the answer to homelessness is on the doorsteps that provide employment

The answer to homelessness could be right on the doorsteps where homeless people seek shelter

The streets of Cardiff will be called home by around 100 homeless people this Winter. However, a dangerous risk of more homeless people is coming, as UK employment has seen its sharpest decline in four years.

So, should we be supporting homeless people by getting them into work? Providing them with a platform into careers that further allow them to sustainably support themselves.

Discussing the harrowing fall into homelessness, Cymorth Cymru’s Nazia Azad-Warren noted, “There are lots of reasons why some people become homeless. It’s a mix between structural issues, personal circumstances and everyone’s relative privilege that determines people’s outcomes.”

Amongst relationship breakdowns, alcohol or drug abuse and housing shortages; unemployment is a leading factor of homelessness in the UK, however, 

“Housing and employment have always been seen as the pillars of moving people out of homelessness and into independence.” 

 There were 11,000 fewer people unemployed in Wales between March and May  than between December and February (2018-2019)
 There were 11,000 fewer people unemployed in Wales between March and May  than between December and February (2018-2019)

Thrive and conquer as communities

Support providers such as Cymorth Cymru (the representative body for homelessness, housing and support services in Wales) and Llamau (Wales’ leading homelessness charity) are tackling homelessness through skills, education and opportunities alongside community support.

“We want to be part of a movement that ends homelessness and creates a Wales where everyone can live safely and independently in their own homes and thrive in their communities,” explained Katie Dalton, director of Cymorth Cymru.

Cardiff opened its arms to over 500 players from across the world to partake in the Homeless World Cup (2019) with the support of Cymorth Cymru. 

On 22 July, just days before the official ‘kick-off’ of the tournament, Cymorth Cymru launched their Play Your Part campaign, encouraging people and organisations across Wales to play their part in ending homelessness. 

The campaign is still available online today, allowing you to contact your local councils, MPs and assembly members through a series of ‘calls to action’ that you feel fit to support homelessness.

Disrupting Stigma Surrounding Homelessness

Job coach and Women’s Business Club Businesswoman of the year nominee, Saskia Volders, has worked with homeless people, refugees and charities, providing guidance to those in need of support. 

Saskia said: “We’re all human and judge appearances and hygiene. Employers look for someone to fit into a team and who are able to help the business from day one. Our (unconscious) bias works against people who are struggling through the stress of homelessness.” 

Securing work for those in unemployment can halt the process of people becoming homeless, and help those currently on the street into employment. Disrupting the stigmas that surround them. 

In April 2019, The Welsh Government released ‘Work in Wales’ data. The recordings were calculated from surveys by the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University and showed that jobs in Wales are now less skills-oriented and demanding in considering the level of qualifications needed. 

This is not to say that those living in poverty are not skilled. A vital crowdfunding organisation, Beam, highlights the aims and dreams that homeless people possess, showing that it is not lack of skills but lack of support. 

Proper pathways alongside the right training and opportunities, work and education is the new frontier of tackling our homeless crisis in Wales. The 88% of homeless people who were once in full-time employment can return to a stable lifestyle through work. 

It is not a lack of motivation or ambition that forces homeless people to stay on the street, as this statistic by Crisis shows
It is not a lack of motivation or ambition that forces homeless people to stay on the street, as this statistic by Crisis shows

According to Crisis (the national charity for homelessness) “The vast majority of homeless people want to work but often face complex barriers to finding and staying in employment. While providing some support and training opportunities, schemes rarely lead to jobs for homeless people far from the labour market. Homeless claimants can instead often feel unheard and unsupported” 

However, Llamau is an organisation that supports those at risk of homelessness to live independent, happy and successful lives, working to ensure that vulnerable people are provided with support including help into a job or back into education. 

The organisation is split into a number of specific services in order to target the right support for each individual service user. Between these various services, Llamau is able to offer life-changing support to around 4,000 of the most vulnerable people in Wales each year.

Nurture programme: Learning 4 Life

Learning 4 Life is a grant-funded programme by Llamau, providing 1:1 support to those in need. “We see ourselves as a nurture provision and as such offer a very holistic delivery model.” Says Mark Willmore, head of learning, training and employment at Llamau. 

Mark Willmore believes that the opportunity to gain an education is vital in tackling homelessness. In adding to the discussion, he said, “We provide essential accreditation and also help to support with life skills and employability. Our aim is to ‘Open their eyes to what is available’ and ensure they leave us with the skills to move on.” Says Mark.

The programme currently sees 75% of those they support to progress into EET. “We help those furthest away from the labour market, with additional barriers to entering education, employment and training,” Mark added.

Currently, the Learning 4 Life team is seeking to deliver the programme in schools. “This is reflective of a preventative delivery model to end youth homelessness across Wales.” Mark Willmore finally adds. 

Will you play your part?

As of December 2017, 90 homeless people have died from life on the streets in Wales. Research has concluded that providing a means of work for those in need is our best way of tackling homelessness and save lives.

“I know that everyone is just a few tragedies away from the bottom” 

Working closely with people who are seeking work and opportunities, Saskia Volders reminds us of how important it is to help those in need, who could so very easily be one of us. 

“Ending homelessness is a team effort, will you play your part?” – Cymorth Cymru