Yasser’s Story

Yasser became homeless when he was given a surprise eviction notice to leave his home immediately in February 2019. He left with just the clothes on his back and slept between friends’ houses and the streets of Cardiff for the next six months, which he describes as the worst time of his life.

During these months, he faced a succession of obstacles. With no secure place, important documents were lost, and his benefits were sanctioned.

Yasser said: “This ruined my life, and it was really painful until I got to the YMCA. But things are starting to get better now with the help of the people at the service.”

Yasser is taking part in the Aspire program at the centre which is a four-week training program to help people experiencing homelessness get back into employment. He is also one of the many homeless people in Cardiff benefiting from the generosity of local businesses through Cardiff’s Homeless Charter.

“The course has been very useful to help me with my CV, job applications and get things like a nice haircut through Give DIFFerently before my interview.”

Having just completed the programme and feeling confident with his new haircut from Jones the Barber, Yasser went for an interview at Royal Mail for a Christmas casual job which went well, but he was unable to take the position because he doesn’t have a passport.

Until he can earn enough money to buy one, he won’t be able to accept any of the job offers he is being given. But with a degree in Business and IT and plans to undertake an MA in Business Studies at the Open University early next year, Yasser is dedicated and determined to get back in to work so that he can “get [his] life back, get a place to live and just do normal things that people do.”

Give DIFFerently and the charter were set up in response to local businesses number one reported concern in Cardiff city centre – homelessness.

Cardiff’s Homeless Charter now allows businesses to play a part in the solution with many already offering pledges including free haircuts, gig tickets, workshops and work experience. These pledges will support people at risk of or experiencing homelessness to gain new skills and experiences that will help them on their journey away from homelessness.

Your donations and pledges to the Give DIFFerenly fund can help to break down barriers for people experiencing homelessness. You can donate £3 by texting GIVDIFF5 to 70331.

Tom’s story

Tom* became homeless in 2014 following a breakdown in his relationship with his partner. In September 2018, he was awarded our top grant of £750 to buy the necessary equipment to help him start up a business again.

Before becoming homeless Tom operated a well-established construction and building company that he had built from the ground up.

A change in personal circumstance and relationship breakdowns had a detrimental effect on his general health and wellbeing.

With his self-esteem at an all-time low, his business broke down and he found himself in need of relying on a sickness benefit and frontline homeless services to support himself.

He moved into a hostel and then onto Huggard Supported Housing where he was told about the Give DIFFerently fund.

The grant has helped Tom to purchase equipment to help start up his business in the local community.

This will help him to move away from relying on benefits and become more financially independent. Rebuilding his business has given him a great sense of purpose and he hopes to give back to the community by hiring people from the local area.

*name has been changed


For someone experiencing or at risk of homelessness, it’s common to have at least one criminal conviction, which makes it extremely difficult to find a job. Many application forms ask about previous criminal activity and we’re legally required to disclose it because many companies will perform routine DBS checks.

An alternative option is to become self-employed, which is why Give DIFFerently have helped two grants applicants out of unemployment. With the full £750 grant, they have been provided with essential equipment to start their businesses.

A criminal record can hold back the progress of a person experiencing or at risk of homelessness, leaving them with very few options to earn money. This only increases the chances of them turning back to crime to survive.

A criminal past should never stop someone from moving forward. This grant can help people experiencing homelessness gain confidence, motivation for work, and ensure that they don’t reoffend.

Providing Identification

Something as simple as owning a form of I.D can be a crucial step in escaping homelessness permanently. Driving licences, passports and birth certificates are easily lost or stolen when someone is sleeping rough and are extremely difficult to replace without a permanent address.

Give DIFFerently supports access to I.D for people experiencing homelessness in Cardiff and has already provided four forms of identification to those who were struggling without it.

Owning a form of identification allows access to crucial government services that we’re all entitled to. It’s needed to get a job, open a bank account, receive benefits and secure affordable housing. Without these vital services, breaking away from homelessness is almost impossible.

The main barrier to obtaining I.D for a person experiencing homelessness can be a lack of money. The average cost of a driving license in the UK is £34-£43, depending on whether you apply online or via post. Giving cash to rough sleepers on the street means they have to make a choice between saving money for a license or providing their basic daily needs of food and shelter.

Securing basic furniture

After living on the streets, in emergency accommodation, hostels or sofa-surfing, it could be easy to think that being granted permanent housing is the ultimate fix for someone experiencing homelessness. However, in the case of someone being granted housing, it’s quite likely that it will be unfurnished with no basic amenities like a bed, oven or fridge.

Several of our large grants have helped individuals and families to secure basic furniture and white goods in order to make their accommodation into a comfortable home.

Living in a furnished home can make a real difference for someone moving away from homelessness. Being safe and secure whilst at home helps to build stability in life and could be the deciding factor in them staying away from homelessness for good.

Wayne’s story

Wayne received the first ever Give DIFFerently grant. His experience of homelessness started at the age of 15, when his parents lost their family home. For the next 25 years, he repeated a cycle of homelessness, addiction and prison until he reached a tipping point which forced him to admit himself into a treatment centre.

“I had lost the use of my right leg and left arm due to my substance misuse and was in a bad way. I knew I couldn’t carry on, so went to The Wallich for help, and they put me in touch with The Salvation Army. From there I went into sheltered accommodation. I decided enough was enough and sought help for my addiction.”

Wayne has been sober since 2014, and in that time has completed countless courses to improve his employability including qualifications in English, Maths, and counselling. However, despite doing lots of volunteering, he has struggled to secure a permanent job. It was whilst at The Big Issue that this changed.

“The Big Issue told me about Give DIFFerently and said if I pass my test with the funding, they’ll give me a full-time job. I applied, did my test – which I passed first time – and the next day they gave me a van and a full-time contract.”

Wayne now works as a vendor developer at The Big Issue assessing people’s needs and using his experience of long-term homelessness to help others.

“I work ten hours in Cardiff supporting people on the streets, and the rest I deliver magazines in Newport, Monmouth and Ross on Wye.

With his driving licence, Wayne can experience a new level of independence.

“I can visit my family, and go out for food with friends and continue to coach the local homeless football team… Where I am today with this job and the van, is thanks to the Give DIFFerently fund. It’s changed my life.”