A CHARITY working with people facing homelessness has seen a 75 per cent increase in people knocking on its door for help.
Caer Las, which has an access point in The Strand, saw 347 people this quarter seeking help, compared with 198 in the same quarter last year.
Dan Jolley, Caer Las business development manager, said: "We were expecting an increase, but not of the scale that we have seen. The benefits changes haven't even begun to take effect yet. They only came into effect on April 1, these figures represent January to March.
"We haven't seen the impact from the bedroom tax yet, but are starting to have clients who are running into difficulties because they have too many bedrooms because there is a shortage of houses with one or two bedrooms.
"We haven't seen the impact of the UK Government's welfare reform programme yet, but are expecting another dramatic increase in the number of people accessing our services.
"One of our biggest worries is direct payment of benefits when the universal credit begins.
"There have been trials in Torfaen that have seen rent arrears increase significantly.
"Services that are already being run on a shoestring are under increasing pressure to serve a larger client group. We're having to work smarter and be more innovative when it comes to delivering services to vulnerable client groups in Swansea."
The access point is on The Strand behind Swansea train station and provides advice, advocacy and support to people who are homeless or are threatened with homelessness.
Even compared with the beginning of the 2012/13 financial year, the numbers have rocketed. In the first quarter 207 people used the access point.
Over the past eight years the figures have risen and fallen. However, in comparison, in the first quarter of 2002/05 52 people visited the access point.
Stuart is one of those people to have sought help from Caer Las. The 29-year- old from Townhill went to Caer Las following a relationship breakdown.
He had spent three nights sleeping in his car and was referred to Caer Las via Swansea Council's housing options. Caer Las helped him to access counselling, and found him accommodation in a shared house in Port Tennant.
Stuart also needed help with his current employment support allowance benefit and Caer Las helped him to complete a disability living allowance application.
The team also helped him with resettlement items for his property.
Stuart said: "Without the help from Caer Las I would still be in my car, their support has been fantastic. I'm coming to terms with my situation with the counselling I'm receiving and feel like I'm getting my life back on track."
The charity's executive director Jim Bird Waddington said of the increase in clients: "We had to double check these figures, we were expecting an increase, but this is incredible. The welfare reform program is really starting to have an impact now and we're seeing a similar increase in our Routes Project in Port Talbot."
If you would like to volunteer to help at Caer Las call 01792 646071; if you would like to make a donation, such as food and blankets, call 01792 467027.