Over the years Zac’s Place has earned a reputation for providing a safe haven and an environment of pro-active care and concern for some of Swansea’s most alienated people.
For those sleeping rough on the streets, they are first of all sign posted to Zac’s Place in the morning, where volunteers are supported by local housing charity staff providing food, housing advice, medical support and importantly an opportunity to assess a person’s needs for housing. Many guests are fragile, chaotic and frightened. Many have slipped through the nets of major support networks, but Zac’s Place’s ability to open the door to all comers and befriend people has proven effective in making sincere connections.
An open door opens up new possibilities for introducing key workers to guests from all the relevant agencies such as the mental health team, drugs projects, housing agencies, hostels, dental care and GP services. Dry clothing, sleeping bags, and even Vaseline for trench foot treatment are simple measures for some folk in desperate times just to get through another day. Over the years Zac’s Place has also earned the reputation of being the last place in the city someone is likely to be banned from. For some of our guests we are a staging post during a period of extreme crisis. Such is their chaos, they may not even remember being with us other than they felt safe. For some we have been a significant part of the catalyst for change and renewed hope and we have maintained a close relationship for many years.
Not Just a Soup Kitchen
Zac’s Place is a myriad of activities and action for the homeless population of Swansea, including:
Breakfast Provision for those Sleeping Rough
Mon – Fri Mornings – Staffed by volunteers and in partnership with The Wallich, specifically for those who have slept rough on the streets that night or who are in crisis not only join us for food but specialised support. With regular visits from drug and alcohol team key workers, a dedicated nurse, community psychiatric nurse and housing support workers it is about a lot more than breakfast. It is an important gateway for accessing hostel spaces and supported accommodation in the city from the streets. The open access welcome environment, that has been a trademark reputation at Zac’s Place, makes it an environment where vulnerable people not only feel safe, but also supported and loved. On a typical morning we would see up to 25 people each morning for breakfast, apx 250 days per year
Coffee Bar Thursday Evenings – In every city there will be soup kitchens, but not every venue endeavours to integrate it’s soup kitchen into the heartbeat of everything else that goes on. The Thursday night Coffee bar at Zac’s Place is an open access free hot meal for anyone that needs one. We can serve up to 45 meals each time and also meet many other practical needs from a dedicated team of volunteers. Anywhere between 1000-2000 meals per year.
Health Days & Drop In Clinic
Working in partnership with the homeless nurse and the Swansea school of medicine, we host health days several times a year where our friends can access multiple check ups in one place. Blood pressure, sugar levels, dental checks, flu vaccinations, chiropodist, sexual health advice, mental health team support are all available. Zac’s Place has often been the preferred venue for these as Zac’s Place has the reputation of being the last place the more chaotic people are likely to be banned from. These occasions can see up to 50 people access support. The homeless nurse also currently runs a drop in clinic three mornings a week from Zac’s Place.
Zac’s Place has been one of the hosting churches providing overnight accommodation through the winter months for some of those sleeping rough in Swansea. It also had a key role in enabling this to become established in the city, with Swansea Hope, through our existing relationships with agencies and the council. The Night Shelter hosts up to 12 people each night. Zac’s Place continues to host breakfast 5 days each week through winter.
Food parcels, clothing, toiletries and other emergency items like sleeping bags, hand warmers in winter are distributed and always available when we have them in stock any time our doors are open. Along with this, there is always a welcome, a listening ear and pastoral support for those seeking it.
Zac’s Place has also been pro-active in raising issues of homelessness and the stories of people in crisis; most recently with BBC Wales in a series about life on the streets and Gritty Productions pilot theatre project, where those with experience of homelessness or were indeed still homeless, worked alongside actors to create original pieces of punchy autobiographical theatre. You may like to read this blog feature, written in the wake of the death of one of our friends, which was widely reported on at the time – ‘Is Anyone Listening’.
For some people Zac’s Place is the only safe haven in their lives. Here they find help, the love and support of others and, importantly, acceptance of who they are and the life that they are leading. It may not seem much, but for many, it is a lifeline.” Janet Keauffling, Nurse for the Homeless and Vulnerable Adults
To support these efforts please see the ‘Support’ page on this site. Thank you.