The number of homeless people in Cardiff is on the rise

This is data journalism student Dan Clark’s first in a series of investigative pieces for We Are Cardiff: looking into the number of homeless people in Cardiff.

Photo by Ben Blyth Photography, from his Behind the Streets project

The number of people sleeping rough in Cardiff has increased by 18 per cent from this time last year, according to statistics released by The Wallich homeless charity.

Monitoring of rough sleepers was undertaken by Rough Sleepers Intervention Teams (RSITs) working for the charity.

For those of us who live in Cardiff, the problems surrounding homelessness are obvious. It is almost impossible to walk through the city centre and go more than five minutes before spotting a rough sleeper. From a personal point of view, since moving to the city in 2016, the noticeable increase has been undeniable.

As you can see, the number of rough sleepers being supported is increasing, which has consequences. A Freedom of Information Act request to Cardiff council revealed that between 1 January 2015 – 15 May 2017, a total of 19 homeless people died on Cardiff’s streets.

Cardiff’s problems appear at the national level, with the number of rough sleepers having increased in almost all local authorities over a 12-month period. The data, collected by RSITs and released by the Welsh Government, gives a one night snapshot of those sleeping rough across Wales. The below map shows the year-on-year comparison in individual local authorities: click on it to explore the statistics.

I spoke to George, 32, who is a former factory worker and has been homeless for just over 2 years. “I lost my job and just couldn’t afford the rent. In the end, I had no one else to turn to so ended up on the streets”.

Asked whether he believed that the number of rough sleepers had increased, he answered: “It certainly does seem that way”. George went onto clarify that he couldn’t say for certain if it had in Cardiff specifically, as he often drifted from city to city, and had not been in Cardiff long.

George added that the kindness of charities and the public is always appreciated, however small those gestures may be: “It might not seem like much to normal people, but something as simple as a warm meal or a thick duvet is seen as a luxury to us lot. Something small can help improve your mood and make the day seem a bit brighter”.

On 27 October, the Wallich was lucky enough to partner with mattress retailer Leesa Sleep, who donated 40 brand-new mattresses to two of its Cardiff hostels. International Welsh rugby player George North and World Champion Cyclist Becky James who are ambassadors for the charity also attended the event.

Mike Walmsley is Corporate Fundraising Manager for The Wallich. “We are so grateful to Leesa for this incredible donation and to Becky and George for taking the time to visit our hostel and speak to our residents,” he says. “A lot of our people will have had to ‘make-do’ for a long time with second hand clothes, charity shop furniture and food bank vouchers. Some rough sleepers may not have slept in a bed for months. Having something brand-new that gives someone a good night’s sleep shows a person that they are valued and that they deserve nice things. This has a positive impact in helping someone back on their feet after experiencing homelessness.”

If you’d like to do something to help homeless people in Cardiff this Christmas, we wrote this handy guide:

Dan Clark is currently studying for a Masters in Computational and Data Journalism at Cardiff University. He moved to the city in 2016 and since then has fallen in love with the place. Thanks Dan!




2 thoughts on “The number of homeless people in Cardiff is on the rise”

  1. There is a noticeable increase of people sleeping rough in Cardiff. Its more noticeable than in Swansea. I am shocked that 17 people died on the streets in the last 2 years. Thanks for the article.


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