Wales

Homeless suffer lack of respect, says Shelter Cymru and Cymorth Cymru report

  • 1 May 2012
  • From the section Wales
Homeless woman (posed by a model)
Shelter Cymru is keen that people's views are included in any new legislation

Homeless people in Wales are often treated with a lack of compassion and respect, says a report.

In addition many say they feel they face a culture of distrust and too much bureaucracy.

The views were put together by Shelter Cymru and Cymorth Cymru as part of research for a homelessness review by the Welsh government.

Housing Minister Huw Lewis said more action was needed to prevent the "social exclusion" of homelessness.

"What emerged most clearly from our research is that people first and foremost want to be treated with respect," said the director of Shelter Cymru, John Puzey.

He said that people who needed help understand that homelessness officers were under a lot of pressure and often had to deal with very difficult situation.

"But they felt overwhelmingly that the culture they experienced was one of distrust and lack of empathy," he said.

Some individuals and authorities were praised for the service provided, but the system as a whole "created a deeply unequal relationship where they were forced more or less to beg for help".

"There was a strong feeling that front line staff should have better training to help them deal sympathetically with people in crisis situations," he added.

He said the system also needed to be looked at, as at present it was "too inflexible and, with very scarce resources, council staff are forced into a 'rationing' mentality".

"However, this perversely can create a situation where people do not seek help at an early stage but instead allow their situation to reach crisis point to increase their chance of being offered help," he added.

Mr Lewis told Assembly Members on Tuesday that the Welsh government was intent on taking more action to prevent homelessness in the first place.

He said the research undertaken by Shelter Cymru would be taken into "full account" in proposals as part of a review on the current homelessness legislation.

He called being without a home an "extreme form of social exclusion" and promised more money to tackle the problem which was on an "upward trend".

The government would be committing over £7m to supporting services to give help to people who find themselves homeless or are threatened with homelessness, he added.

There would also be £1.4m over two years for local authorities to mitigate the impact of the cuts to housing benefit, with additional funding to Shelter Cymru to raise awareness of the changes.

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