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Minister marks launch of new ‘landmark’ Crisis Skylight South Wales building

(L-R) Ashella Lewis, Skylight South Wales Director, Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change, and Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, cutting the ribbon marking the launch of Skylight South Wales' new building

Crisis’ Skylight South Wales has formally opened its new building with Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change, attending to mark the occasion in her home constituency of Swansea West.

The Skylight, located on St Helen’s Road, is one of 11 run by Crisis across the United Kingdom and the only one of its kind in Wales. The Skylight team support people at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness in Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot to end their homelessness through housing stability, financial security and employment, good health and wellbeing, and positive relationships and social networks.

Skylight South Wales is also pioneering a new approach to homelessness support through the Critical Time Intervention model, supporting people transitioning from prison to find housing and reintegrate back into society.

Crowd including Crisis staff and volunteers, members and stakeholders celebrating launch

The team moved into the new and improved building in March 2021, but the official launch was delayed as a precautionary measure to keep staff and members safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The building includes bespoke facilities such as a dedicated arts room and teaching kitchen, allowing Crisis to better help its members and provide a wider level of support.

Crisis coach and members cooking soup and bread for launch

The support offered to its members is not just shaped by the building and the dedicated team of staff, but also by the clients themselves: the Skylight offers an environment where they feel comfortable sharing their unique experience of homelessness and Crisis as an organisation, ensuring that the services are developed together with the people who use them.

Homelessness is an issue high on the political agenda in Wales, with the Welsh Government working to a highly ambitious and commended strategy to end all forms of homelessness, and having made great strides in reducing rough sleeping.

Julie James MS, whose ministerial responsibilities include housing and homelessness, attended the opening ceremony to show support for the Skylight, reaffirming the Welsh Government’s commitment to its breakthrough action plan to end homelessness.

As part of this plan, Crisis are taking a leading role in convening an Expert Review Panel to reform homelessness legislation in Wales.

Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive and Chair of the Welsh Government’s Ending Homelessness National Advisory Board said:

“We are delighted to officially open our Skylight for South Wales, providing vital and expert support to people who are facing homelessness.

“Of course, it’s concerning to see rising demand for our services. No one should have to face the trauma and indignity of homelessness. But together with the Welsh Government and other key partners, we’re pleased to play our part in ending homelessness through our new centre in Swansea.

“We will continue to work closely with the Welsh Government to help implement their radical programme of reform to homelessness policy, but it is also vital that people who are homeless here and now get the help they need, and this landmark Skylight centre will play a vital role in doing that across South Wales.”

Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change, said:

“It’s a pleasure to be here today at the opening of Crisis’ Skylight Centre in South Wales and to meet people who are benefiting from the service.

“The expertise and dedication of the staff is apparent and is clearly making an enormous difference in helping to transform people’s lives.

“Everyone in Wales should have somewhere safe and suitable to call home and Welsh Government is committed to our long-term goal of ending homelessness.

“In support of this, we are fundamentally transforming homelessness services to focus on prevention and rapid re-housing and will be setting out our policy and legislative proposals in a Green Paper early next year.

“I am very grateful for the expertise of Crisis in helping to take forward this work, and for the input of those with lived experience of homelessness, as ensuring their voices are heard and help shape policy and services is vitally important.”

Ashella Lewis, Director of Crisis Skylight South Wales, said:

“We aim to provide a welcoming, safe environment for our members to work with our dedicated team including coaches and tutors who, alongside members, identify their strengths and address barriers, setting their own goals to end their homelessness.

“More than half of the Skylight’s members who moved on from Crisis services in the year from July 2021-22 saw an end to their homelessness and many others continue to engage and receive life-changing support, to leave homelessness behind for good.

“Homelessness cannot be ended in isolation. To achieve our vision we need to work together, and we welcome our partners to the Skylight today to strengthen our relationships and build new connections. Collectively, we can work together not just to end homelessness for our individual members, but also to influence wider policy changes that ensure homelessness is ended for everyone across the whole of Wales.”