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Newport Homelessness Fund Launched at New Drop-in Centre

Homelessness is increasing in Newport but charities working on the ground and Newport Now BID have come together to launch a new initiative that, with the help of the community, will support people off the streets and into safety.

Figures published by Welsh Government last month from their annual monitoring exercise suggest that rough sleeping across Wales has gone up 30 per cent in the space of a year. In Newport, leading homelessness charity, The Wallich, reports a 25 per cent increase in the number of people sleeping rough in the city compared with the previous year. Rough sleeping is the most acute form of homelessness and can be incredibly damaging to already vulnerable people, both physically and psychologically.

On Thursday 28 June, The Wallich and Jayne Bryant AM cut the ribbon to a new drop-in centre for people experiencing homelessness.

At the launch event, which was attended by partner agencies, Assembly Members, the council, Gwent police and local business leaders, The Wallich announced it will be working together with Newport Now BID and Eden Gate to create a new homelessness fund for Newport, called Street SupPORT, with simple contactless donation points in business’ windows across the city. The people of Newport are encouraged to tap their contactless card on the window to donate £3 to the fund. A text-donate code and JustGiving page are also available.

Using the contactless donation points in shop windows will help rough sleepers get the support they need. The Street SupPORTfund will be used to expand and sustain existing homelessness services in the city; extending opening times and increasing their capacity to help more people. 

Street SupPORT also hopes to engage the public with the issue of homelessness in their city. As part of the campaign, Newport Homelessness Action Week will take place in October. The local community will be encouraged to get involved, learn more about this complex issue and take action to help vulnerable people in Newport.

Jayne Bryant AM for Newport West said:

“Homelessness is on the rise in cities and towns around the U.K. and sadly Newport is no exception. Today’s opening of the centre is a good example of the community, businesses, voluntary groups and other agencies coming together to provide support for vulnerable people.”

The Wallich centre on School Lane houses key services for people who are homeless or vulnerably-housed, including Newport Rough Sleepers Intervention Team (RSIT). The RSIT goes out onto the streets every morning to give hot food, advice and support to people who have slept rough the previous night.  The team then invites people to the drop-in centre, where they can access a phone, the internet, make appointments, receive post and get advice and referrals to appropriate support from specially-trained staff. Presently, the centre is only open for two hours a day. With the new fund, it could be able to open for longer; giving vulnerable people a place to go, helping them to pursue a route out of homelessness.

Lindsay Cordery-Bruce, chief executive of The Wallich, said:

There is considerable will and sympathy in government, at local and national levels, to tackle the issue but the number of people sleeping on our streets is still increasing. It’s vital that we continue to come up with innovative new solutions and make sure that the good work already happening can continue.

“We’ve all got a collective, community responsibility to help people in need. Street SupPORTis a prime example of a partnership approach with tangible, practical benefits. We really hope the community of Newport will get behind it.” 

Eden Gate, another Newport homelessness charity, works together with local churches. They offer a winter night shelter, in different churches on a rotation system, from November to March. The Street SupPORT fund will help expand provision beyond the winter months, in a new single venue, for people to have a safe place to sleep 365 days a year.

Kevin Ward, Newport Now BID manager, said:

“Homelessness is not a problem unique to Newport and there are no easy solutions to what has become one of the major social issues of our time.

“The BID represents around 450 city centre businesses in Newport and we all have a part to play in helping to get people off the streets.”

Contactless donation windows can be found in HPJV Solicitors, Specsavers Friars Walk and Livertons Opticians in Newport. 
To donate by text: PORT24 £3 to 70070 
To find out more about the fund visit: www.thewallich.com/street-support