Wales

Caerphilly homeless woman given hotel stay for Christmas

Johanna Simic with two kitchen volunteers
Image caption Johanna Simic (right) is the manager of Tyfu Cafe which has been helping the woman

A woman living on the streets was able to stay in a hotel after a Good Samaritan donated the funds.

The 22-year-old's story went viral following a Facebook post written by a woman who met her at the Tyfu Cafe in Caerphilly which helps homeless and vulnerable people.

And that prompted the donor to come forward to fund a Travelodge stay.

The woman, who has been living under tarpaulin, said it "was lovely, it was just what I needed".

She added: "It was just nice to be able to run a shower and be able to stand in there for as long as I wanted, watch what I wanted on telly."

Cafe manager Johanna Simic helped arrange the hotel stay, which she described as "the best present", after the donor got in touch when the Facebook post was shared more than 1,000 times.

Two nights were paid for by the donor, and another night was paid for by the benefactor's daughter.

The Facebook post said: "Please support this lovely Cafe at the top of Caerphilly. So today I was introduced to this little gem of a place. Tyfu Cafe is a Social Enterprise. Food was lovely.

"People have food and can leave a tip for the homeless to have drinks or food. Whilst I was there I got talking to a young lady aged 22.

"She lives on the streets of Caerphilly on a pallet under a piece of tarpaulin. She was telling me how much the Cafe had helped her and the staff felt like her family."

The homeless woman, who asked not to be identified, said Tyfu Cafe had become her "family" after she became homeless last month.

Image copyright Tyfu Cafe
Image caption Tyfu Cafe feeds and trains vulnerable people within the Caerphilly community

She explained: "This place has supported me the past month, giving me hot meals every day, letting me come in and warm up… been there to talk to me, support me through anything and every little thing I've needed.

"They've sort of stepped up and been a family where my family haven't."

Since the woman's story was shared online, Ms Simic said she had been amazed by the donations to the cafe.

"You don't realise how many people have been affected by hardship until something like this comes along," she said.

Tyfu Cafe run schemes where customers can pay ahead for food and drinks for the vulnerable, and trains volunteers in the hope that they will be able to gain paid employment in the future.

Hugh Wilson, a former member of the armed forces, works as a volunteer and described the role as a "lifesaver" for him, as he "wanted something to keep me occupied".

Mr Wilson, who has post-traumatic stress disorder, added: "I wanted to give something back. I love the volunteers, I love the customers."

The homeless woman said the response to the Facebook post had been "overwhelming", and that it had helped her to raise awareness about living on the street.

"It's nice to be that voice and sort of say, well, come on world - wake up, look at what's going on around you," she said.

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