Praise for documentary on Swansea’s homeless

A TELEVISION documentary has been praised for placing the issue of homelessness in Swansea firmly on the agenda.

The BBC series, Swansea; Back on the Streets, made by film makers Tracy Harris and Chris Rushton, followed the homeless in the city over the winter.

It was the second such documentary series from the pair who captured on film the harsh realities of living on the streets.

The latest series has been praised by charities for placing the problem in the spotlight.

Filmmaker Chris Rushton said: “We filmed the first series in the run up to Christmas 2013 and we went back 15 months later.

“I would say that the problem has grown. And it is going to get worse with the bedroom tax and other benefit clamp downs.”

Mr Rushton said that many of the homeless they met were young and had troubled backgrounds.

He said: “A lot of them had very unhappy childhoods. I would say that over 50 per cent of them have had a difficult upbringing, if you don’t have the love and care of a family it leads to all kinds of problems.

“They haven’t got the support that comes from a nice family. It’s a different world.”

He added that the problem was not unique to Swansea.

He said: “Swansea is like any other city. If you are homeless you are going to go where there are shelters and charities that help.”

Now the filmmaker hopes that the programmes will help address the issue.

He said: “Hopefully, we have helped others understand the nature of the problem.

“You have to give credit to these homeless people. They don’t often trust people and we have been privileged to have them speak to us in the way they did.”

So far the reaction to the series, which finished last night, has been positive.

He said: “We have had fabulous viewing figures, especially going out at 10.35pm. I have been amazed by the number of people who have cried watching the films.

“It’s what TV should be for, yes it entertains and is good for the rugby, but it can also help make a difference.”

Dan Jolley of registered charity Caer Las Cymru praised the programme saying: “We are pleased with the profile and awareness that 165,000 viewers brings.

“We have had lots of people getting in touch with us and donating things to us.”

Mr Jolley praised Swansea Council for the manner in which it aimed to address the problem.

He said: “The local authority is doing a really good job of making sure people aren’t on the streets but tackling the problem itself is an issue.

“It’s an ongoing and difficult problem to fix and you will never see a point where there are no homeless on the street.

We are working with the Welsh Government to improve our access point on the Strand.”