SUPPORT made available to keep homeless people off the streets during the coronavirus pandemic provides an opportunity to eliminate rough sleeping in the city altogether, housing organisations have said.

Councils in Wales have been given a share of £10 million by the Welsh Government to provide bed and breakfast accommodation for anyone sleeping on the streets in an effort to reduce the risk of any of them catching or spreading coronavirus.

And since then a partnership of organisations involving Newport City Council and Gwent Police, along with housing organisations The Wallich, Pobl, Eden Gate and the Salvation Army, have been able to get the majority of rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation.


Marc Hepton, operations manager at Eden Gate, said the charity is providing 50 evening meals, three days a week as part of the effort, with food provided by the Salvation Army.

And he said there is now an opportunity to end rough sleeping in the city.

“I think there is a really great opportunity to end rough sleeping in Newport, but whether we end homelessness, that remains to be seen,” he said.

“But there is certainly a great opportunity to end rough sleeping.”

The Wallich and the Olive Branch are also working to provide meals at other times, ensuring those in temporary accommodation get three meals a day, seven days a week.

Meanwhile, Newport council's housing department has said it has been dealing with “unprecedented levels of demand”, as the virus impacts on people’s lives, jobs and tenancies.

Gareth Jones, area manager of south east Wales for The Wallich, said the focus is now “turning towards sustainability.”

“We were facing a national homelessness emergency before the pandemic and we cannot let people currently in accommodation go back to rough sleeping when this is over,” he said.

“We’d like to see this positive momentum continued to make sure we don’t return to the same numbers of people on the streets as before.”

Jan Sutcliffe, a community assistant at Newport’s Salvation Army, said she also hopes the crisis will bring about a change.

“It’s amazing how accommodation can be found now, with the situation we are in, but why has it not happened before?” she said.

Tariq Khan, founder and managing director of Feed Newport C.I.C, said some of those placed in temporary accommodation - including one man who had been sleeping rough for more than nine years - are now being found permanent homes.


A spokeswoman for Newport council said finding temporary accommodation is “a complex undertaking as the majority of this small group of individuals have chaotic lives and significant issues in addition to being homeless.”

“As well as finding them somewhere to stay and organising the provision of three meals a day, we are also ensuring that they have the necessary support professional health, medication and substance abuse services,” she said.

“Toiletries and clothes are also being given if required.

“Leaflets detailing the range of support available are being put into breakfast packs and contact details made available for GP, MIND and mental health services.

“We have also engaged live-in managers for bed and breakfast accommodation.”