Boomerang started its journey as a homeless/poverty organisation, helping citizens that live on the streets who still deserve a little dignity, however the journey developed moving in different directions but still keeping its identity with regards to tackling poverty. Boomerang Cardiff has been developed with the community and volunteers, many volunteers are driven by previous lived experience of homelessness, poverty and social isolation. Following a period of falling on hard times and experiencing homelessness as a self-employed businessman, founder Paul Gwilym began to work with the local community, creating and funding the project himself.
Under the umbrella of Boomerang Cardiff, there are four sections to the project:
- Homelessness/Prevention of Homelessness
- Poverty, In work poverty/Critical Living Conditions
- Community Engagement/Education
- Social Isolation/Loneliness
Boomerang Cardiff focus on the needs of the community from all suburbs of Cardiff and work with the community in a number of ways; as a charitable organisation we work hand in hand with the community to support/prevent homelessness, poverty, critical living conditions and social isolation. We aim to help and support local people and families that are down on their luck, quickly and efficiently, working to promote, benefit and empower the inhabitants of Cardiff without distinction of sex, sexual orientation, race or of political, religious or other opinions in a common effort to enhance living standards. Our aims are simple, to provide help to people who need it and fast.
Forms of poverty are complex, we understand the issues are UK wide, however we are a local charity for local people. In Cardiff, through dealing with groups identified as suffering ‘poverty’ and ‘in work poverty’ the knock-on effect identified ‘child poverty’ the reduction of ‘quality time’ parents spend with their children through ‘work intensity’ just to get by, ‘fuel poverty’, ‘food poverty’, and the impact of ‘critical home living conditions’. The nature of poverty has changed significantly in recent years, there has been a marked change in ‘low income working family’ groups and in addition to other people in our community who we assist, we at Boomerang Cardiff, are placing huge efforts to support them to live a socially acceptable quality of life which allows them to participate in society, enabling families to concentrate their efforts on more important things in life, helping with their physical, mental and social well-being.
Currently we are solely run, managed and developed on a voluntary basis, we have 20 regular volunteers in total with around another 40 we can call on for support and not one person to date has been paid. Separate to a small unpaid board of trustees, we have five key players that dedicate their time by volunteering anything up to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week to coordinate and sustain operations of which Boomerang Cardiff aspire to eventually employ. Not to mention the number of volunteers that assist on a regular basis. The five key players are able to offer such commitment for a range of reasons and are driven by previous lived experience.
We have reached large numbers of people across the city, the way the local community support us is overwhelming as the community are our main source of household donations, entrusting us to pass on to families in need. Our main media platform is Facebook, to date we have 7470 followers, regularly sharing posts, engaging with polls/conversations of how we could better service we provide. This year, year 2 of running as a charity, we have been selected as Sainsbury’s charity of the year from a public vote. We have supported over 2700 families across Cardiff solely with household assistance all of which has been donated by the public, this figure doesn’t include the number of homeless people and community action groups we support plus community groups who depend on space we offer in our community center to empower people, build self-esteem and other activities that improve social well-being, most successful group being PIP (People in Pain) which has over 20 regular members on a weekly basis to enhance education, diet and exercise to help people manage long term health conditions. Based on stats gathered over a 12 month period, we directly support an average of 25-30 families a week with household assistance, we regularly liaise and engage over 50 different front line support services, charities, community groups
This is not a one-way street, we consult with all organisations and groups to identify where we can be best placed to support the community, hold regular community meetings and teaming up with organisations across the city to support the most vulnerable in our community.
Household support – with regards to furniture and household items, we benefit at least 25 families a week whether it be moving on from homelessness, hostels, residing in critical living conditions and helping asylum seeking families settle into accommodation.
Support Groups – Average 4 per week and developing further. Community groups use our centre on a weekly basis to meet without financial strain on book in advance basis with the emphasis to empower people to live their lives to the best of their ability, combat isolation, enhance education and social mobility and develop a befriending service to change aspects of vulnerable people’s life cycle to enhance and empower their ability
Our aims are simple, to provide help to people who need it and fast, clothing and food to the homeless, furniture and household items to those living on the poverty line’. Literally anyone who has a genuine need, Boomerang Cardiff are here to help without prejudice.
We secured our premises 21 October 2016, however we only started to collect data from 1st January 2017.
From 1st January 2017 – 31st July 2018 we have supplied and helped the following:
- 7200+ homeless meals delivered on our weekly runs into the City Centre – During the runs we handed out a range of essentials. (We have now stopped providing food, however, we still continue with basic essentials and make links with all groups involved)
- 2712+ families received much needed help with household items
- 492+ Homeless starter packs proved once accommodation secured
- Helped 6 people living homeless to secure accommodation and given them a sense of direction by offering them to become a part of our boomerang family, 2 of which volunteer daily
- 1000 school children, at their schools, have taken part in group discussions regarding living in poverty and well-being
- 30 community groups received help with educational reading equipment/social interactive learning toys
- Provided Christmas time gift packs for over 250 refugees and families seeking asylum
- Provided Christmas gift bags to over 1000 people/families living in hostels or on the streets of Cardiff.
- Gifted presents to wounded, injured and sick service men and women and their families
- Facilitate ongoing community support groups and projects
Boomerang up to now is solely run and managed by volunteers, volunteers from the community have been hugely influential in interacting and liaising with the community, as well as delivering outcomes for the community.
Within the centre, we currently have 4 successful regular support groups who use the facilities to meet without financial strain to include our most successful ongoing group ‘People in Pain’ which entails education, diet, exercising, personal management.
Using our centre what we are developing in addition:
- Offer a mentoring service (Something which in the coming months will be placing a huge emphasis in supporting people)
- CV writing & Interview skills
- Motivational speaking, confidence building
- Coffee mornings to build self esteem
- Community Social cohesion & integration programme
- Community based activities, workshops and Educational courses
- Training courses open to all such as – dealing with finances, recycling, sign language/Makaton, living with mental health
- Father and toddler groups for those that find it difficult to spend quality time with their children
- Back to work programme to include CV writing, interview skills, personal presentation and team building exercises
- Community based activities, workshops and Educational courses