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14 October 2016

Homeless and without hope at 16 for Welsh teenager

A Welsh scheme which has helped around three quarters of a million people facing homelessness is itself under threat because of fears about its funding.

The Supporting People programme has been a life line to Tom Savery from Barry who had been made homeless at 16 following a family breakdown.

“I had no future ahead of me or any hope really. I got to a point where I didn’t care. I became depressed and had zero confidence,” said Tom.

The teenager spent a lot of time sofa surfing and drinking. He dropped out of college and although found work, he hated the “rubbish job” which barely paid enough for him to live on.

The turning point in his life came when he was referred to the Gwalia Barry Offenders project. It had been set up with funding from the Supporting People programme to support young tenants who would struggle to cope without specialist help.

“The support I had gave me back my confidence. I am now back in college, have a roof over my head and am no longer drinking every day. I now have hope to go on and want to become a support worker after being inspired by the support workers who did so much to help me. Gwalia has totally changed my life around for the better,” he added.

However the homeless charity, Cymorth Cymru, and Community Housing Cymru, which represents Welsh social housing landlords, are worried that money for the programme, which has been going since 2004, will be cut in Tuesday’s draft Budget.

Auriol Miller, Director of Cymorth Cymru, said, “The way we are addressing homelessness in Wales is a real success story. It is one of the truly positive impacts of the Welsh Government on the people of our country. Not only that - it also helps save valuable resources within A&E departments and doctor surgeries.”

The £124 million Supporting People programme pays for housing-related support and has made a big contribution to the prevention of homelessness in Wales. It’s funding was cut by £10 million three years and both organisations fear a cash strapped Welsh Government may be tempted to reduce it again.

Stuart Ropke, Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru, said, “The stories of people like Tom show how the programme can have a huge, life changing impact on lives. Apart from the cut in 2013/14, Welsh Government has consistently backed Supporting People and we would urge it to continue helping the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people like Tom.”