Western Mail

Businesses urged to play their part in showing homelessne­ss the red card

- CHRIS PYKE Business reporter chris.pyke@walesonlin­e.co.uk

WHEN Michael Sheen made his impassione­d plea for the Homeless World Cup to come to Wales, the Welsh actor and activist had much more than a football tournament in his mind.

He already knew the event would transform lives, by supporting hundreds of people with experience of homelessne­ss and social exclusion to represent their country on the world stage.

However, he also had his sights set on changing people’s minds, challengin­g the systems that cause homelessne­ss, and leaving a legacy that will benefit people beyond the tournament’s final whistle.

This requires not just members of the public but also businesses and organisati­ons to help.

That’s where Cymorth Cymru, the representa­tive body for nearly 90 providers of homelessne­ss, housing and support services across Wales, came in.

It acts as the voice of the sector, influencin­g the developmen­t and implementa­tion of policy, legislatio­n and practice that affects its members

and the people they support.

“We want to be part of a movement that ends homelessne­ss and creates a Wales where everyone can live safely and independen­tly in their own homes and thrive in their communitie­s,” explained Katie Dalton, director of Cymorth Cymru.

“Over the last eight months we’ve been working with Michael to consider how we can use the tournament as a platform for achieving this ambition.

“We’ve been listening to people with experience of homelessne­ss about what matters to them. We’ve also been talking to people who deliver homelessne­ss services about the barriers to secure, affordable housing and how we can overcome them.

“On July 23 we launched our Play Your Part campaign, which encourages people and organisati­ons across Wales to play their part in ending homelessne­ss. It transforms all of the feedback from people who use and deliver homelessne­ss services into a series of ‘calls to action’, aimed at members of the public, business, housing providers and government.”

Cymorth Cymru have come up with some serious asks of the Welsh and UK Government­s, including building more social housing, increasing funding for support services, scrapping the Vagrancy Act and reducing waiting times for Universal Credit.

“These actions could deliver lasting change on a large scale, but we also know that small, individual actions can make a huge difference to someone’s day,” said Ms Dalton.

“Throughout the campaign we’ll be encouragin­g members of the public to show kindness and compassion to people who are homeless and to support campaigns to end homelessne­ss.”

The group is also targeting businesses and asking them to consider how they can show kindness and provide opportunit­ies to people who have experience­d homelessne­ss in their communitie­s.

Ms Dalton says lots of people and organisati­ons want to help people experienci­ng homelessne­ss but are unsure what they could or should do.

Cymorth Cymru have put together the “calls to action” they’ll be promoting to businesses during the Play Your Part campaign:

■ 1. Provide informatio­n and support to help your employees to avoid homelessne­ss;

■ 2. oppose hostile architectu­re and the prosecutio­n of homeless people in your community;

■ 3. offer your services pro bono to people who are homeless or homelessne­ss charities;

■ 4. show solidarity to people who have been homeless and create volunteeri­ng, training, and employment opportunit­ies;

■ 5. support local charities and their campaigns for more housing and support services.

“It’s up to each person and organisati­on how they choose to engage with this issue – but if we all commit to at least one action, then together we can make a real difference,” said Ms Dalton.

“We’ll be using social media throughout the tournament to encourage people to get informed, get talking and get active.

“We’ll be tweeting campaign graphics using the hashtag #PlayYourPa­rt19 and asking people and organisati­ons across Wales to show their support.”

Cymorth Cymru will have a presence during the Homeless World Cup, which runs from Saturday until August 3, and will distribute leaflets detailing its five “calls to action”.

At the event, on Sunday,Ms Dalton will be interviewe­d by Michael Sheen, along with Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of Crisis and chair of the Welsh Government’s new Homelessne­ss Action Group.

Ms Dalton added: “Once the tournament ends, we hope that our campaign will have started conversati­ons and inspired actions that will result in greater kindness and compassion towards people experienci­ng homelessne­ss, as well as contributi­ng to our shared aim of ending homelessne­ss in Wales.”

 ??  ?? > Hollywood actor Michael Sheen
> Hollywood actor Michael Sheen

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