This week we are celebrating our incredible partners who help us to raise awareness of registering to vote. Alex, a volunteer for The Wallich, blogs about the importance of reaching out to those affected by housing difficulties or homelessness.
Alex lived in London and had a successful career in higher education before he ran into housing difficulties. He returned from London to South Wales, where his family lived, and over the past year has engaged with a variety of services in the Cardiff area, including The Wallich.
Alex has begun volunteering with The Wallich to get involved in ending homelessness in Wales. He is writing a blog about his experiences and has taken part in video campaigns and research.
Here’s what Alex had to say ahead of the May 2016 National Assembly for Wales and Police and Crime Commissioner elections in Wales:
“I’ve spoken to and encountered plenty of homeless people, many of them using services provided by The Wallich. During these encounters, I’ve heard many articulate, thoughtful and strong opinions about loads of political issues.
It’s pretty obvious that homeless people in Wales are just as politically motivated and politically thoughtful as anybody else, and in some cases, more so. This doesn’t do much good, however, if you can’t use your opinions to change anything, or affect the political decisions made in Wales and Britain.
Registering to vote is the first step. If you don’t do this, you can’t vote, and if you can’t vote, you have no influence on who runs the country in Parliament, who represents us in Europe, or in the Welsh Assembly. If you’re registered, you can even vote for your local Crime Commissioner, meaning you have a direct effect on law enforcement and legal issues in Wales today.
Registering to vote can also help you do things like rebuild your credit rating. Whatever your views are, and whether you want to vote or not, just registering to vote makes sure that you can be ‘seen’ or ‘counted’ by the system. If you don’t even register, you can lose representation in Parliament because the number of MPs that exist is based on the number of people on the electoral roll.
I had to register to vote after I recently changed address and it was really easy. It takes just a few minutes online and if you don’t have a fixed address, there’s a simple paper form to fill in.
It’s a common misconception that homeless people can’t vote – one that’s held by many homeless people themselves. I’m currently volunteering with The Wallich to encourage homeless people to engage with democracy and make their voices heard.”