Huggard: providing shelter and skills for the homeless

This article is re-posted with permission from Cardiff Community Couch. The original version was posted on 15th November 2013 and can be found here.

Homeless Link estimates rough sleeping has gone up by more than a third across the UK over the past two years.

The rise is less pronounced in Wales, but reports of rough sleepers have been on the rise.

Huggard provides a combination of shelter and skills to Cardiff’s homeless to help them regain their independence.

The day centre is run largely by volunteers, as one might expect. But what really struck me as I chatted with them was that a vast proportion of them are homeless themselves.

Here are people who are more than willing to work, but many have faced barriers into attaining basics like a house, a job and an income.

Providing homeless people with the skills they need to work towards getting these things is at the heart of Huggard’s ethos.

The strikingly modern and clean day centre has a pleasant, friendly vibe. I’m used to people shrinking back in apprehension as soon as I say I’m a journalist. Here volunteers, homeless and otherwise, flock to tell me about how much they’ve benefited from the centre.

By working in the kitchen, they learn how to cook for themselves as well as all the time-management and customer service skills that come with working in catering.

They’re given the opportunity to pass food hygiene qualifications that are sought after in workplaces.

I’m also told that people with mental health problems find it therapeutic to tend the garden and look after the chickens kept there.

As well as giving the homeless opportunities to help themselves, Huggard collects donations of food, clothes and furniture. There are emergency cubicles for people to sleep in if the only alternative is sleeping rough. Once they’ve managed to secure their own accommodation, they can take the furniture donations to furnish their new home.

I could go on singing Huggard’s praises, but you can hear all the best bits from the volunteers themselves.