South East Wales

Cardiff funding blow for Wallich homeless shelter

Wallich nightshelter Image copyright Wallich
Image caption From 1999, the shelter in Riverside has been opened all year round not just in winter

A homeless charity said it may be forced to close its night shelter for rough sleepers in Cardiff unless it can find £40,000 by the end of next month.

The Wallich will lose its £62,000 Welsh government funding, which it uses to run its 12-bedroom shelter in Riverside, from the end of March 2015.

It has found £20,000 but is trying to raise the remainder by the end of January.

The shelter provides emergency beds, hot food, showers and support.

It even takes in dogs - as the charity finds homeless people would often rather give up a bed for the night than give up their pet.

Amy Lee Pierce from The Wallich said: "We helped 280 people last year and have already helped 250 so far this year. The number goes up in the winter months.

'Crushing blow'

"As well as emergency shelter, we have five support workers who help with accessing a GP and moving into permanent accommodation."

The funding will come to an end as part of an expected 10.2% budget cut for the Supporting People Programme Grant (SPPG) in 2015/16 which funds services such as these.

The SPPG is provided by the Welsh government and administered by Cardiff council. It is available to all local authorities in Wales.

The charity has set a 31 January deadline because it needs to give staff notice.

A combination of collections, events and crowd-funding has started to keep the shelter, which opened in 1998, running for another year.

Nearly two thirds of the £21,000 crowd-funding target was raised by Christmas Day.

'Difficult decisions'

Chief executive of The Wallich Antonia Watson said the loss of funding was "a crushing blow" and that it had a successful record.

"Eighty-one per cent of people who used the night shelter in the last year moved on in a planned, positive way."

A Welsh government spokesman said: "It is up to Cardiff council how they prioritise their funding. In the past five years alone, we have provided around £700 million through the Supporting People Programme to help vulnerable people live as independently as possible.

"However, as a result of the £1.5bn UK government budget cuts since 2010/11, we cannot afford to fund everything at the same level and have taken very difficult decisions to minimise the impact on services."

A spokeswoman said Cardiff council will "continue to work with providers to identify ways to mitigate the impact of the proposed changes as far as is possible".

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