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Covid-19 support for rough sleepers turns lives around

FOR some people, the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed their lives – and this has been true for Peter*.

However, for this former rough sleeper, the impact has been a positive one after receiving significant support to tackle his complex issues.

His support worker Catherine* has shared his story to highlight the excellent work and dedication of the floating support team and the determination of clients to improve their lives.

Since he was 16, Peter has been in out of prison; experienced serious substance misuse problems and has mental health issues including anxiety and depression.

He also has behavioural and relationship troubles, resulting in many years of repeat offending as well as difficulties in maintaining positive relationships and sustaining tenancies.

However, since the beginning of the pandemic, he has been engaging well with support services and receiving assistance with housing and his mental health. If he needs help he will now seek it from his support worker.

Peter has also maintained a tenancy in his temporary accommodation for the longest time in many years while decreasing his dependency on alcohol and drugs. His offending behaviour has improved as he has consistently engaged with his probation officer.

He has enjoyed making his accommodation his own and improving his cooking skills. He also wants to have his own tenancy and to continue reducing his dependency on drugs.

Peter will need to receive continued support in order to live independently but Catherine is confident that he has the potential to succeed.

Peter’s uplifting story is just of many successes seen in Newport after Welsh Government made funding available to support homeless people during the pandemic.

During recent months, people have been offered temporary accommodation across the city and agencies, including rough sleeper’s floating support, The Wallich, GDAS, GSSMS, Probation, Eden Gate, SEASS and Pobl, have given support.

A small number of clients have also accessed rapid prescribing services to obtain Buvidal, which treats opioid dependence.

Councillor Jane Mudd said:

“Our long-term aim has always been to get people off the streets and into accommodation – a helping hand to a better life, not a handout to maintain a chaotic lifestyle.

“However, the pandemic brought a new focus to the problem, not just for those who are dedicated to supporting people sleeping rough but to the individuals themselves.

“The increased funding from the Welsh Government aimed at housing everyone played an important part but what proved crucial was the engagement of people with the support services, some for the first time.

“This has enabled many people to see that they can change their lives in the long-term. It does not mean that there have not been challenges, and there are still some individuals who are rejecting any help, but we have made large strides forward to tackling one of today’s major issues.

“We hope that this is a trend that will continue even when the pandemic is under control as we provide alternatives to a life on the streets that benefits individuals, the city and society.”


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