Wales

Homelessness: Five coastal town churches open their doors

A homeless person sleeping on the street Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Church groups, the local council and other organisations are working together on the project

Churches near the seaside are giving the rising number of rough sleepers a roof for the night.

Five churches in Llandudno and Colwyn Bay will turn into a B&B for one night a week to help 10 people at a time.

Homelessness has been on the rise in coastal areas, as well as in urban areas.

Conwy council will refer those sleeping rough, and 150 volunteers have been trained to take part in the six-week programme.

Those sleeping rough will be taken by minibus to a church for the night.

"While support for those who are homeless is often focused on our large towns and cities, coastal resorts like Llandudno and Colwyn Bay are seeing a rise in the number of people sleeping rough," said Rev Mike Harrison.

"Support for those who are homeless is available during the day but there's never been adequate night-time facilities."

Figures for 2019 estimated there were 405 rough sleepers in Wales.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Colwyn Bay is an area highlighted as having rising homelessness and little provision to help

While most significant numbers were in cities such as Cardiff (92), there were also sizeable amounts in coastal areas such as Conwy (21) and Gwynedd (22).

Meanwhile, Katie Dalton from Cymorth Cymru, the umbrella body for providers of homelessness services, said the Welsh Government needed to make more money available to combat homelessness.

She told the Politics Wales programme "demand has increased but the funding has been cut".

The Welsh Government's draft budget for 2020/21 has maintained funding for the Housing Support Grant, which supports a range of interventions to prevent homelessness, at £126.76m, which amounts to a cut when factoring in inflation.

"Despite pressures of austerity we have maintained the budget for housing related support since 2014-15 and this year alone are investing an additional £20m on preventing and relieving homelessness," the Welsh Government said.

"We are committed to tackling and preventing homelessness in all its forms."

Rev Harrison said the decision was made to help out during the coldest weeks of the year, with no overnight provisions currently in Llandudno and one small hostel in Colwyn Bay.

The Night Shelter Project follows other initiatives, including one in Wrexham that started in December.

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