Thursday, March 05, 2009

Street Carers progress

This evening, the first meeting of the Street Carers Forum Representative Group took place at the old Gospel Hall building in Tavistock Street Roath. This was bought by Highfield Church and transformed into a support centre for homeless and needy people. The downstairs area contains a well equipped kitchen, shower and toilet, with sufficient small tables and chairs for thirty people to sit and eat.

Upstairs is a room which contains a clothing store, and a seating area of nice comfy sofas. When people have been fed downstairs, they can come up, sit and relax in a homely environment. If they need help with filling in forms or writing letters, there are volunteers to hand who will help. There is a TV, but it sits in the corner on the floor, unused so far, as for many street people who come to be fed, having the chance to relax in company and chat is far more important than being 'entertained' by the idiot's lantern.

TAVs, as it is called, is a superb piece of voluntary social enterprise, used by the Salvation Army by day, and on two weeknights by Street Care teams. Interest is being shown by new teams in the possibility of working from there on other weeknights. If a local volunteer led facility of this kind could be established close to another part of the city centre, it could contribute greatly to getting needy homeless people 'off the streets' in the right sort of way. Not cleared out of sight, to numb the consciences of consumers, but given a place where care and interest is offered, where people can feel safe, relaxed and normal for a while, and eat a meal sitting at a table, rather than standing up or sitting on a doorstep, or street bench.

As for the meeting, it was lively and constructive. My account of the developing liaison between the diverse groups of volunteer Street Carers across the city, can be found in a new blog, set up for this purpose.

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