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'Together at Christmas' brings festive cheer for city vulnerable

Scores of people from across Swansea came together at the Brangwyn Hall to enjoy a free two course lunch and a bit of festive cheer.

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An open invitation was extended to anyone who was feeling lonely, vulnerable, homeless or at risk of homelessness to attend Together at Christmas..

Organised by JR Events and Catering, with support from Swansea Council, this year saw the addition of a clothes and foodbank as well as many other services including free haircuts, health and housing advice, sanitary bags and pet food.

Swansea Council's Trading Standards provided clothes, hats and footwear that had been confiscated during operations to seize counterfeit goods after removing the fake branding.

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Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart was among the many volunteers who turned up to help serve food.

He said: "Together at Christmas is always a special event and I would like to thank to JR Events and Catering along with the many businesses and individuals for their generosity as it could not happen without them.

"What makes our city so great is the selfless generosity of its people and their determination to support each other at times of need and this is on show today.

"This event is all about providing a bit of festive joy for anyone who is vulnerable, not just those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, but also anyone who is feeling lonely or in need of a bit of festive cheer."

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The carvery lunch was served with all the traditional trimmings and those who attended also enjoyed entertainment.

Jessica Rice, Director of JR Events and Catering, said: "We have been overwhelmed with support and donations and I cannot thank the businesses and people of Swansea enough for making this another special day.

"I hope everyone who attended enjoyed and this has shown people that they are not alone and Swansea really cares.

"This year we extended to the event o include wrap-around services so it will make a lasting difference.

"Nothing will go to waste as we will ensure that any leftover food, clothes and other items will be distributed to the foodbanks across the city.".

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The Together at Christmas event comes as Swansea Council as more support than ever before is being put in place in Swansea to help the homeless or anyone at risk of becoming homeless during the winter months.

Swansea Council is working very closely with its partners to ensure that no one who needs or wants a bed or accommodation in Swansea will be without this winter.

It is part of the council's Homeless Strategy which includes a detailed action plan that aims to put the needs of the homelessness at the heart of the services they receive.

Cllr Andrea Lewis, Cabinet Member for Homes and Energy at Swansea Council, said:  "These actions which go with it will help us to go the extra mile to support families, single parent families, rough sleepers, those with mental illness and others who are at risk of becoming homeless or are already homeless.

"Although some people decide to decline assistance no one will need to sleep rough this winter.

"Since the launch of Housing First in Swansea at the beginning of December, we have already had our first offer of accommodation accepted, providing a warm safe home for someone who was sleeping rough on our streets.

"We also have three further offers under consideration. Earlier this year we awarded the contract to deliver Housing First to the Wallich who will lead on coordinating the wrap around support from multiple agencies."

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If you see a rough sleeper during the day the council's advice would be to contact the Rough Sleeper Intervention Team on 07824 991448 or Housing Options on 01792 533100.

Out of hours you can report to www.streetlink.org.uk or call 0300 5000914.

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