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* 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
Today (Thursday 26th September), FOR Cardiff has launched Cardiff’s Homeless Charter to unite people, businesses, schools and universities to tackle homelessness in Cardiff together.
Co-created with homeless organisations, it will provide other alternative ways to give through time, employment, skills and services to help people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Pledges can be made through the Give DIFFerently website.
Businesses, such as Neal’s Yard, The Greenery and Jones the Barber have already come forward to offer a range of pledges such as offering community time to help people integrate into society, chef training to improve their employability and free haircuts to build confidence.
Delyth Griffiths, owner of The Greenery in Cardiff Market, who experienced homelessness when she was 15 said, “I’ve been through my own struggle with homelessness and it can feel like the world is against you. It only took one person to help me get back on the right track and now I’m able to do that for someone else.
“I’m offering to give professional chef training to someone experiencing homelessness, no matter where they are in their journey. They’ll learn about everything that’s needed to work in a professional kitchen and how to run their own catering business from stock take to marketing. I hope it will give them the skills and confidence to turn their lives around.”
Alongside the charter, FOR Cardiff has installed new, permanent donation points in the city centre to continue to raise money for its homelessness fund, Give DIFFerently.
Two static donation stations have been installed – one on the front of Cardiff Central Library and another in St David’s Shopping Centre. A third hand-held device will be used on big event days and will be available for local businesses to fundraise.
100% of the money raised will go to the fund to directly support people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Since launching the contactless giving scheme last year, the fund has received £11,404 in donations from generous visitors, residents, businesses and organisations of Cardiff.
35 grants have been awarded over the past year for necessities, such as ID, driving lessons, furniture or white goods and vocational training, to help people find their feet and aid them in their journey away from homelessness.
Andrea Powell from Community Foundation Wales said: “Managing the fund means that we’ve been able to distribute grants through the brilliant homeless services in Cardiff, to homeless people that are most in need, and are most likely to benefit due to their engagement with these services.
The fund has already supported 35 people to get essential items such as I.D to open a bank account, vocational training to gain employment and household goods that will make a house into a home. These things can all improve the quality of life for anyone who is or has experienced homelessness and help to prevent them from returning.”
Adrian Field, Executive Director, FOR Cardiff, the business improvement district for the city, said: “We set up Give DIFFerently in response to concerns from businesses about homelessness in the city. They wanted to find a meaningful way to help individuals rough sleeping. The initial response to the pop-up donation points was extremely positive and the installation of permanent ones will mean we can keep the fund going and give out more in grants.
“We are able to proudly say that 100% of donations go to the individual. The introduction of the charter is the next step in offering alternative ways to support people at risk.
“The funding and pledges, combined with existing services, means we are coming together to give people as many opportunities to make a positive step away from their current situation.”
Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Cllr Lynda Thorne said: “The Council is working hard to support all those who are experiencing homelessness in the city and we know that residents and visitors want to help too.
“As Give DIFFerently partners, we are pleased to have a contactless point in our busy Central Library Hub where people can donate to help individuals in Cardiff who are going through a tough time in their lives.
“The Library Hub is in a prime location to not only raise as much as possible but to highlight what is being done city-wide for homelessness. We hope visitors remain generous and give what they can, when they can to help.”
To donate by text, text GIVDIFF5 to 70331 to give £3.
Over the last three weeks in March, donations for the Give DIFFerently campaign were collected via contactless technology at our interactive display in Cardiff city centre.
For every tap at the contactless pay point, £2 will be put towards small grants for those who are currently experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. Thanks to the Four Acre Trust, your £2 will become £4, doubling your donation.