Wales

StreetLink alert scheme to tackle homelessness in Wales

People sleeping rough

A bid to get homeless people in Wales off the streets has been launched.

The StreetLink scheme allows anyone to call or send an online alert about the location of someone they see sleeping rough.

Authorities will then locate that person and offer them support including finding them accommodation.

In Cardiff alone, the number of people sleeping rough has jumped 64% over the last two years.

"We know some people want to help but don't know what to do," said StreetLink director Matt Harrison.

"People don't know whether they should give people money or food or drink, or talk to people or refer them to local services.

Thousands of alerts

"What is most effective is to get people into local services to help get them off the streets but most people won't know where to go.

"StreetLink has the information and we will get in touch with local services, and then report back to the person who got in touch."

StreetLink has been running in England since 2012 and received funding from the UK government.

More than 35,500 alerts have been made to local services and 15,000 people have received support with almost a fifth gaining accommodation.

Some of the reasons for not being able to help someone is because they have moved on or they were begging as opposed to being homeless.

The rollout to Wales includes funding from the Welsh government.

'Dangerous'

StreetLink said it is hard to get exact numbers of those sleeping rough around Wales but it estimates the figures run into the hundreds.

A headcount by the Welsh government in November 2014 showed there were 244 people.

Meanwhile, figures published by The Wallich - a charity supporting homeless people in Wales - show an increase of people sleeping on the streets of Cardiff, up from 12 in October 2013 to 28 in October 2015.

Antonia Watson, chief executive at The Wallich, which will receive many of the referrals, said: "So often, members of the public see someone sleeping rough and wonder 'what can I do?'. 

"People in the general population are obviously scared of approaching strangers on the street, concerned about doing the wrong thing, and unsure what to do for the best. Unfortunately this often leads them to do nothing at all. 

"Streetlink solves this issue."

Communities Minister Lesley Griffiths said StreetLink would "provide a lifeline to many of Wales' most vulnerable people, when they need it most".

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