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Why Easystore’s Brendan Connies-Laing Is Supporting Llamau This Christmas

22nd December 2015

Llamau Sleepout image
Well, Christmas is now well and truly upon us – in addition to all the usual trials, tribulations and stresses that come with it.

…But what if instead of finding the right size turkey to feed your family, you were searching for any kind of meal at all? Or, what if instead of gathering around your tree and swapping presents, you were searching for your next sofa to sleep on in a safe place? The perspective of the homeless at Christmas is hard to imagine, but one thing is clear: it’s hard.

Easystore Self Storage’s Director Brendan Connies-Laing has been a staunch supporter of Llamau, who help young homeless people in Wales. Brendan recently took part in the Llamau fundraising sleep out event at the Cardiff Central youth club.

How did you come to learn about Llamau and their work?

My wife works with the charity and the stories she tells of the people she has helped and the nature of her work really inspired me to get involved. The sleep out was a big eye opener for me, as although it’s quite light-hearted and safe, it allows you to gain a glimpse into some of the hardships people face.

What are your thoughts on homelessness and the work of Llamau?

There is this great misunderstanding that simply handing out money or packages will solve the problem of homelessness. For some it’s a conscious decision, but for many it’s a situation they find themselves in and it often begins with a hardship at home. Sometimes it can be a family breakdown, financial difficulties or even abuse that forces them out of their home and seeking somewhere safe to, well, just be. This usually results in sofa surfing, where the individuals find themselves reliant upon family or friends for shelter. Sadly, this often leads to the individuals overstaying their welcome and usually due to the nature of the trauma that drove them out of their homes in the first place, they can exhaust their relationships. Some turn to the shelters, but this comes with its own risks as these places – whilst well intentioned – can often be hotspots for abuse, particularly for young and vulnerable people.

The homeless then have no choice but to turn to the streets, sleeping in shop doorways or toilets, leaving them vulnerable to further abuse. Getting a job or steady income becomes almost impossible – it’s hard enough to get employment without having slept rough with no shower for three weeks. This forces some individuals to turn to crime or other damaging ways to secure some form of income.

Llamau work to build a support network for young people to prevent individuals getting to the stage where they have nowhere to turn. It’s a case of ‘prevention is better than cure’. Llamau seek to resolve immediate homelessness by defining and working to address the problems that caused it. This can be about re-establishing positive family contact, where appropriate, or working to re-integrate young people with their families and communities. The charity works to develop the living skills of individuals to help them gain the ability to become self-supportive. This means that they are able to live safely and independently, be that through initial financial support or simply connecting them with the right authorities or communities.

Tell us about the sleep out…

The sleep out is now in its fourth year and was set up to raise funds and awareness of homelessness and Llamau’s work to tackle it. With fundraising in mind, there was an evening of entertainment featuring live music and refreshments as well as some important messages from speakers about homelessness. We were then all tasked with building our own shelter from basic materials, including cardboard, tape and sheet plastic.

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We then slept outside in the carpark in the cold and the rain. The sleep was very difficult and after one night of being cold, uncomfortable and wet I think it’s fair to say that we were all relieved to have our own beds to go home to – something that thousands of people across Wales are unable to say tonight.

What did you learn from taking part?

As I said previously, we only had a glimpse into some of the hardships people face; we were never in any danger, and if we wanted to we could simply bow out and go home. That’s just not an option for some people, and I can only imagine how vulnerable that must make someone feel. Llamau worked with over 5,000 young homeless people last year, as well as women and their families – some of whom have experienced the most horrendous domestic abuse. Their work is life changing. More than that, it gives people a second chance at a life – but to do that they need support.

How can people help?

There are lots of ways people can help support the wonderful work of Llamau. You can set up a monthly donation or hold a fundraising event. Even just raising awareness of Llamau and their work helps. They really are a worthy cause and their work at this time of year is more vital than ever.

If you would like to support Llamau you can call 02920 239 885 or visit their website at – you can also view their Christmas Appeal video here, or below:

Author: Brendan

Brendan is the owner of Easystore Self Storage.

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