PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
Were that to happen then the weeping and wailing would be heard from the Afan Valley Adventure Resort to Llangefni Shire Hall. (How are those projects progressing, by the way?) The resultant tsunami of grief from political and third sector circles, the tourism industry, and those who have come to Wales to invest dirty money, would take us from pandemic to total catastrophe. Catastrophe, I tells ye!
As the title suggests, this piece is about homelessness. I take the view that it’s inevitable people will become homeless; some through no fault of their own, others though making the wrong lifestyle choices. Whether both groups should be helped in the same way, and treated equally, is a discussion for another time and another place.
My criticism stems from the fact that there are clearly individuals and organisations exploiting homelessness in their own interests. The evidence is everywhere. When I submitted a FoI to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ in late 2017 the reply told me that Wales already had 48 organisations involved in what I make no apologies for having called ‘the homelessness racket’.
And now I’ve run across another member of the cartel, this one called Housing Justice, yet another English organisation that has added ‘Cymru’ to its name and branched out into Wales in the era of devolution. And it’s always Wales, never Scotland.
They come because they know they’ll got a good reception – and funding – from the ‘Welsh Government’. For nowhere else on Earth does the third sector exercise such influence over an administration. In fact, it is part of the administration.
That, and the fact that due to policing, justice and prisons not being devolved, added to the mess of a privatised and inefficient probation service, has resulted in Wales becoming a dumping ground for England’s problems.
And this unhealthy influence of the third sector is no recent phenomenon, as this report from a decade and a half ago confirms.
In terms of funding, Housing Justice – which is both a company and a charity – is not a major drain on the public purse like some of the other players in the business. Its role seems to be more of a facilitator, or a link. What I’m trying to explain will become clear later.
As I said, this is an English organisation, with its headquarters in London, and run by Christians of various denominations. Housing Justice Cymru was set up in 2016, though this brief article suggests that HJ was already operating here, with Wales regarded as a ‘region’. Presumably of England.
For the piece I’ve just linked to tells us, “first director will be Sharon Lee, currently acting coordinator for Housing Justice’s Faith in Affordable Housing project, Wales region”.
You’ll probably remember that Wales & West CEO, Anne Hinchey, is also a devout Christian, as are others connected with W&W. Which I’ve always thought was odd. For Wales & West is undoubtedly one of Labour’s favoured housing associations, if not the outright favourite.
And yet, most of the bruvvers I’ve known over many years have been either agnostic or atheist. How do we reconcile a secular political party being so close to a housing association where, when it comes to recruiting and promoting staff, Christian belief may be more important than the qualifications and qualities necessary to run a multi-million pound business?
Before getting back to Housing Justice Cymru I’d like to mention something I picked up in the Annual Report and Accounts for 2019. On page 12 we read that among new projects set up in 2018 was one in ‘Chester (West Chester)’. So I checked the map provided by HJ, and I even tried Googling ‘Housing Justice Chester’ but there was nothing. The nearest shelter seems to be in Ellesmere Port, which is north of Chester.
Mildly confused, but undaunted, I pressed on.
From what I can gather, Housing Justice Cymru‘s initial focus of operations was on Swansea Bay, with shelters in the city itself and in Neath Port Talbot. This may be due to the presence in Penclawdd of Mandy Bayton, a director of Housing Justice and something of a leader among those on a mission to do good.
But then, late in 2018, HJC launched night shelters in various Wrecsam churches. And once again we see the Wales & West link at work, for CEO Anne Hinchey never misses a photo opportunity.
I’m in no doubt that the Wrecsam night shelter links with the opening of HMP Berwyn, the UK’s largest prison, the previous year. For prisoners released from Berwyn, with nowhere to go, become Wales’s responsibility, even though most of them come from outside Wales.
I’m equally sure that the Wrecsam night shelter is the one referred to as ‘Chester (West Chester)’ in the HJ Annual Report. This is reminiscent of the ‘West Cheshire’ deception used by estate agents hoping to sell local properties to those who can be persuaded that Froncysyllte and Rhosllanerchrugog are Anglo-Saxon place names.
But if you really are that stupid, then Jac’s got magic beans . . .
Though in the case of Housing Justice Cymru I’m sure it’s a genuine mistake. Which means that HJC thinks the largest town in northern Wales is part of Chester.
That picture of the ubiquitous Anne Hinchey comes from the Housing Justice Cymru Facebook page. Where I also turned this up.
I mention it because it might link with this story from the BBC yesterday about cabins for homeless people in Llandudno and Bae Colwyn. Though Housing Justice Cymru is not mentioned, only Cais. If they’re both running schemes for the homeless in these towns then rough sleepers should be well catered for.
But will there be enough to go round? Or will we see homelessness outfits fighting on the streets of Rhyl, Prestatyn and Colwyn Bay just like the drugs gangs from north west England fight in these towns over their customers?
What am I saying! There’s plenty more over the border, both homeless and drug addicts.
Cais, you’ll recall, appeared here not so long ago, in this post. Cais is one of the major players in the A55 homelessness/social dumping racket. With the latest accounts reporting an income of £10m, half of which goes on salaries – £70,000+ for the CEO – but still manages to leave £1.6m in the bank.
According to the Charity Commission website Cais operates in ‘Lancashire and throughout Wales’ but the ‘area of benefit’ is ‘Wales and the Marches’. The composite below makes me think of a number of problems.
First, putting Lancashire ahead of Wales rather gives away Cais’ priorities (though the map also covers Cumbria!). Second, how can importing criminals and drug addicts from Manchester and Liverpool be of ‘benefit’ to Wales, or the Marches? Third, how can the ‘Welsh Government’ and local authorities fund an organisation that is so obviously working to the disadvantage of Wales?
Clearly Cais and Housing Justice treat Wales with some contempt. To them we are just an appendage into which England’s problems can be dumped. But that’s how the homelessness racket operates.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that homeless people/rough sleepers move around of their own volition, but what we have in Wales is organisations that are quite blatant in importing homeless and rough sleepers. While in the north the problem has been exacerbated by the opening of HMP Berwyn, with capacity for over 2,000 prisoners.
Before finally explaining what I believe is going on, here’s another little insult from the Housing Justice Cymru Facebook page.
“We simply can’t find enough ways to say thank you”, it says. Why not try ‘Diolch’?
Incidentally, the Caer Las mentioned in the FB post is another third sector outfit based in Swansea that deals almost exclusively with released prisoners, who are often housed in cheap property bought in residential areas. Caer Las has made itself very unpopular over the years, especially in Llanelli.
In addition to setting up night shelters and serving up hot soup, Housing Justice Cymru is also in partnership with housing associations; not just Wales & West but also Pobl.
Proof comes in the form of Jonathan Hughes, based in Swansea, who “is a Catalyst Worker for Housing Justice in Wales”. (I thought it was called Housing Justice Cymru.) Before joining Housing Justice Cymru Hughes was Director of Development (West) for the Pobl Group, headquartered in Newport.
Now to explain what I believe is behind it.
Like other homelessness organisations Housing Justice Cymru controls valuable ‘assets’ – in the form of homeless people. Which makes HJC attractive to housing associations. Wales & West of Cardiff has a limited presence in the Swansea area; how better to increase its footprint than by linking – via the Christian connection – with a group already established in the area.
In the north, we have a Category C prison that is way too big for our needs providing a regular supply of ‘clients’ for third sector bodies like homelessness organisations, using Welsh public funds. (Or whatever is left over after salaries, junkets and jollies.) Berwyn has become a magnet for both third sector outfits and housing associations.
In addition, we have bodies like Cais importing directly.
But the ‘homelessness’ organisations have to be there first to confirm that people are homeless and in need of somewhere to live. These then become prospective tenants for Wales & West and others. And because of the backgrounds and ‘issues’ of these homeless, housing associations can demand – and get – top dollar.
In essence, we have developed a system that sees housing associations ‘feed off’ homelessness organisations. For housing associations this is much more lucrative than housing law-abiding and hard-working Welsh people.
And to help facilitate this relationship we have people like Sharon Lee, director of Housing Justice Cymru and chair of Wales & West. And she’s not the only one with a foot in both camps.
The third sector in Wales is, increasingly, run by people who have moved to Wales themselves making careers out of exploiting others that they or someone else has dumped on us. And we pay for this.
Not just in direct funding, but also in blighted communities, added pressure on the NHS, more work for our police and courts. So look at the big picture, which is so easily lost when you’re on the moral high ground hugging each other for being so virtuous.
When Labour loses next year’s Assembly elections, whoever takes over should reform the third sector as a priority. And use the money saved for what Wales really needs.
Little things like an economy, an education system, a health system, infrastructure and all the other things prosperous and well-run countries take for granted.
For just as nobody ever got rich working for somebody else, no country ever prospered from allowing itself to be constantly shat on by its neighbour.
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