Homelessness is a growing problem within Calderdale

Dave Fawcet and Colin Rennie, at Happy Days
Dave Fawcet and Colin Rennie, at Happy Days

“There’s a lot of good will in the town, we just need more.” - Dave Fawcett is one of Calderdale’s unsung heroes helping people who are homeless in the borough.

Dave was born in Halifax and set-up the Happy Days charity to provide help and support to homeless people.

The general consensus is that homelessness is a growing problem. The new Universal Credit scheme is cited as a factor, while the festive and new year period can see increasing numbers of people on the streets due to extra financial pressures and family tensions.

A recent rough sleeper count across the borough found six people were sleeping rough, but the actual number is thought to be far higher.

“It seems to have increased,” says Dave. “I’ve noticed more people sleeping rough, and there are a number of reasons.

“A lot of people have mental health issues, their relationship may have broken down and it would seem Universal Credit has had an impact.

“There is support available but it’s not easy getting people to access it.”

A temporary homeless shelter opened for 90 days from January 8 at the Gathering Place. It is the seventh year the shelter will have been running and so far it has helped get more than 250 people off the streets.

“It’s alright putting people into accommodation but they have to keep it,” says Dave.

“They need support to do that. Happy Days runs supported accommodation for 14 ex-homeless guys in Calderdale.

“We are looking into having an extended shelter so that we can run across all the winter months.

“But we don’t have the money.

“We’d love to offer people accommodation as a minimum throughout the winter.

“By the time a person becomes homeless, they’ve reached rock bottom.

“What they need is love and support to get back on their feet. Not just to provide a roof but help with accessing benefits and mental health services.

“It’s heart-breaking seeing someone homeless. We’re doing all we can to help.

“But to run the shelter for longer we need about 10 volunteers a night.

“Everyone who is homeless gets grouped together but everyone is an individual.

“They’re just normal people but they’ve made wrong choices or had some bad times.

“Hope is lost when you end up on the streets.

“But Calderdale is an amazing place and we do a lot more than other areas.”