We left off last time outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, just getting ready to begin the march through Cardiff to the city centre. Organisations, mascots, press, photographers, people dressed in costumes and people like us from all walks of life, were slowly gathering at the starting point of it all, outside the Welsh Assembly Building.
The march got underway at about 1:30pm. Early on, ‘Dangerous’ and a couple of others, had to retire as the pace was faster than either of us had anticipated but Deb being short, it was probably a wise move. I was struggling to keep up due to some of my other problems, to a point I was running on will power, determination and stubbornness. I seemed to get in with good people who kept going.
We went up through Lloyd George Avenue ending the march up at the Hays, where entertainment was put on and the promises of the politicians were aired, as were residents own stories. We believe ours was shown when we went into the shopping centre for some warmth. Deb – as you can see – was reunited with me at the Hayes. Many of the issues we’ve raised and will be raising, were laid bare for all to see.
Michael Sheen added his support to the campaign, recording a video message echoing the sentiments of all who were there. The March and rally was peaceful. No arrests or trouble were reported and it was a really good atmosphere which warmed up a day of dodgy weather. People attended from all over Wales and about 30 of us were there from Newport City Homes - staff and residents – small in number, great in strength and spirit.
The cameras of the world seemed to be following us that day. I gave interviews and began to sound like a politician, but over the years we’ve seen too much of the bad side of the housing crisis. So preaching the gospel on this issue has somehow now become the normal thing to do and in spite of what some might say, the right thing to do.
You’re no doubt wondering what the full aims of the campaign are. We want more affordable homes for those who choose to rent or buy. At the moment, it is believed the current ‘living’ wage would mean that many people would be bankrupted by the excessive charges levied on mortgages and private rental charges. The availability of suitable properties is limited and the choice available is also miniscule.
We all want a safe secure home to live in. We are voicing not just are concerns but for those of future generations of potential home owners and people looking to rent. Many younger people can’t afford to leave home and if they do, will probably be put into B&B accommodation or a hostel of some kind. Many disabled people have, in effect, become prisoners, forced either to live at home with relatives as properties are in accessible or simply unsuitable.
Around 5,000 people a year face eviction from their homes as tenants of a private landlord or due to difficulties keeping up payments on their mortgage. As things stand, current wages will not cover modern living expenses – putting food on the table, paying all the bills, gas, electric, water and phone, clothing or maintaining the home or car – as you can see, things are at breaking point.
During the very full day, we got talking to so many wonderful people and it’s nice to see that we’re not alone, everyone had their own horror story to tell. Personally, the march was the best way to show my frustration as to what has gone so horribly wrong with the availability of affordable, safe, appropriate, accommodation, that we actually want and not what those in office say we should have. Life is about choices.
Check back tomorrow when we have the final part of our story.