The report published by Audit Wales, Rough Sleeping in Wales – Everyone’s Problem; No One’s Responsibility, highlights the huge opportunity presented by Covid19 to tackle the issue of rough sleeping for good.

At Llamau we have long argued that our focus as a nation must be on the prevention of all forms of homelessness, including rough sleeping, and we are pleased to see this report supporting this focus.

The report highlights that the root causes of rough sleeping are extremely complex and that people are too often rough sleeping as a result of traumatic experiences earlier in life. The report shows that when growing up:

  • Two thirds of people who sleep rough experienced violence between parents
  • Just under 60% had a parent or carer with a drug or alcohol problem
  • About half had been sexually and/or physically abused
  • A quarter had been taken into the care of a council as a child or young person
  • 15% reported that they often did not have enough to eat each day

The report is further evidence of the need to focus on the prevention of rough sleeping and reinforces findings from a study conducted by Dr Peter Mackie in 2014 which found that nearly 50% of single homeless people first became homeless before the age of 21.

As Dr Mackie wrote in a recent blog, “It is unambiguous that most homeless adults of today were yesterday’s young people at risk.”

The report demonstrates just how crucial it is that prevention of homelessness, at a young age, remains a core priority – something which was reflected in Welsh Government’s Homelessness Action Group’s Framework of Policies, Approaches and Plans needed to End Homelessness in Wales.

Frances Beecher, CEO of Llamau and Chair of End Youth Homelessness Cymru, who was a member of the Homelessness Action Group welcomed Audit Wales’ report.

For too long we have known that the root causes of homelessness stem from traumatic and adverse experiences in childhood. It is absolutely crucial that we build on the work we have done to support people sleeping rough during the Covid19 pandemic, and invest in integrated services which intervene early to prevent homelessness, rather than waiting until people reach a crisis point in their lives.

Ending homelessness is everyone’s responsibility and if we all work together, I truly believe we have a huge opportunity to create a Wales without homelessness.