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Swansea Mum Who Was Homeless Sets Up Arts Hub

Stacey Hancock

A Swansea mum who was homeless for eight months has set up a thriving arts and community hub in Swansea city centre, which is helping people with mental health issues.

Stacey Hancock set up Driftwood, in Princess Way, at the end of 2020, where she supports creative people to develop skills in everything from tattooing and beauty, to media design. Her story has been highlighted as part of the Big Heart of Swansea’s True Heart social media campaign, which shares the stories of the people behind some of Swansea City Centre’s favourite businesses. The social media account, which is powered by Swansea BID (Business Improvement District), has shared more than 30 uplifting stories from people working in the city centre.

Stacey said: “I hope by sharing my story I can inspire others who are struggling at the moment. I was homeless around three years ago and I lost everything, including my job. I am so lucky to have turned my life around and to have opened Driftwood, since then.

“I had some really hard times, and I think that has driven me to help others.  All the staff who work here have come from difficult backgrounds and having this focus is a real driving force for me to remain positive and grateful for the life I have.”

Stacey has two sons, aged eight and 14 and her husband has twins, aged seven. Being part of a tight family network has, she says, motivated her to make  Driftwood a success.

She adds: “I’m so lucky that my children were able to stay with my family while I built up the Driftwood project. They were the driving force behind helping me get back on my feet while I was homeless. Another thing that really motivated me to get up each day and to work hard was seeing first-hand the lack of facilities available for homeless people.”

Driftwood has a fully equipped photography studio and sells paintings and trinkets handmade by local artists.

Stacey is also continuing with her education. She went back to the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) this week to continue her studies in Creative Advertising.

“I was on this course many years ago but when I became homeless I couldn’t continue with my education. But it is never too late to finish what you started and I’m proud of myself for coming this far.”

She is looking forward to reopening Driftwood as soon as restrictions ease and has organised a programme of workshops and sessions to help those suffering with depression and mental health issues.

“It’s never been more important to take care of yourself because life can feel so tough and isolating at the moment. My advice to anybody who is struggling is to ride the wave because calm waters always follow.”

Andrew Douglas, Business Liaison Manager for Swansea BID, says: “The stories featured via True Heart have shown the true grit and determination of Swansea city centre business owners. Stacey is just one of many examples of resilience and determination in the face of today’s uncertainty. The True Heart stories have really gained traction in the past few months and True Heart has been a great way of Swansea BID giving our support to the businesses and keeping them in the mind of the consumer, even is people aren’t visiting the city centre as often at the moment.”