Emergency Bed: Our hostels are almost always full, however, we recognise the urgent and immediate need for some people with literally nowhere to go but the streets. For this purpose, we keep available two rooms for an emergency/crisis. These rooms are staffed 365 days of the year. Someone can stay overnight, have a cooked dinner, breakfast in the morning and be given some practical advice and contacts to help them find a place to stay in the longer-term. This may be at the YMCA, or another frontline hostel. We take self-referrals and referrals from the local Emergency Bed Co-ordinator for street homeless people. The bed is used nearly every night of the year. Last year we extended this provision to include an overnight facility for referrals from the Cardiff Night Bus (the UK’s first mobile outreach centre for rough sleepers). We do this in partnership with Cardiff Council’s Homelessness Department, who allow vacant nominated rooms for this purpose.
Floor Space: During the cold winter months the homeless network in Cardiff collaboratively work together and offer floor space out to those sleeping rough. This is called the Cold Weather Provision and will run generally from November to March; but this is subject to specified cold weather conditions. The Ambassador opens up 4 spaces to those in need. They will be provided with a camping mat, sleeping bag and hot drink on arrival and given access to the communal room for the night. When possible we also offer clothing and toiletries too, as well as advice on resolving their homeless situation. People staying overnight are able to meet with a member of the Housing Team the following morning to complete an application for accommodation and be assessed and placed on our waiting list. Referrals for floor space can be made through the Emergency Bed Co-ordinator and the Bus Project.
Private Rented Sector Scheme (PRS): Recognising the limited stock of social housing available in Cardiff, we’ve developed a scheme to work with private landlords willing to offer their vacant properties to YMCA residents on an ‘as and when’ basis. The scheme has enabled us to provide an additional housing option to meet the move-on needs of residents wishing to move out of the hostel and primarily works with people who are living on a low wage or are in receipt of benefits.
Landlords are offered a bond/bond guarantee, support to help set up the tenancy, and access to an independent arbitrator in the event of a claim against the bond at the end of the tenancy. The scheme also provides a point of contact should a dispute arise. Residents receive resettlement support for up to 4 weeks while they settle into their new home.
Pet Rooms: Homeless people with pets find it even more difficult to find somewhere to live. With advice from the Dog’s Trust we have been able to set aside two rooms for people with pets. We have successfully housed a number of people with cats, and a number with dogs ranging from Boxers to Jack Russells and Rottweilers and they have all been very well behaved and popular with residents and staff alike!
The Dogs Trust runs a veterinary entitlement scheme for homeless dog owners to access free preventative treatment (neutering / worming / vaccinations etc) including any treatment needed up to £250. The dog owner is expected to contribute the first £10. There is no cost to the organisation and the support department has responsibility for liaising with the Dogs Trust to access free vet care for service users with dogs.
‘People told me that having my dog was holding me back, but she was everything to me. And having lost everything else – my home, job, car, my possessions – I couldn’t bear to lose her too’.