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Helping Homeless At Christmas

ANA Boxing Club, along with numerous volunteers, are helping the homeless this festive season

A former Rhondda Cynon Taf boxer, well known for his sharp deliveries in the boxing ring, is making special deliveries of a different kind this Christmas - and is helping bring communities together.

Kind-hearted Anthony Trow, who now coaches at ANA Boxing Club in Mountain Ash, has made it his mission to show that community spirit is alive and well in Rhondda Cynon Taf this Christmas and is helping homeless people in Rhondda Cynon Taf and its neighbouring city centres.

Having gained massive support from members of ANA Boxing Club, and the local community, Anthony and a dedicated team of volunteers took to the streets providing food and clothing to people of all ages and backgrounds who have nowhere to live.

These donations make all the difference to people who would otherwise have very little this Christmas.

The project, the brainchild of Anthony, all started with a small group of people donating £20 each and then buying food for homeless people. But after posting news of his activities on social media, donations of food, clothes, cash and blankets quickly started pouring in from far and wide.

As well as delivering food and clothing, Anthony and his dedicated volunteers have so far also raised around £500, which they are donating to Huggard and the Salvation Army – which will cover the cost of around 150 Christmas meals for the homeless in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Cardiff and Swansea.

Anthony, a Rhondda Cynon Taf Council project officer with Lower Cynon Communities First, and all the members of ANA Boxing Club, have been overwhelmed with the response from the public, and found the whole experience a valuable lesson in life.

The Council’s eight Communities First teams, based around the County Borough, are working in cluster groups with residents, community organisations, businesses and other key agencies in deprived areas with the aim of contributing to alleviating persistent poverty within our communities.

Anthony said: “For me, this has made me realise we should all be grateful for what we have around us, things we take for granted every day of our lives.

“It also taught me that we can all give a little something, if only our time and effort.

“The majority of these homeless people live day-to-day taking what they can find and what they receive. There is so much that we take for granted in life.

“But even though these people are homeless, they still have their own independence and still like making their own choices, although they do not have many opportunities coming their way.”

One of the most touching moment for Anthony was when he offered sandwiches to a homeless woman, who courteously declined them, telling him that she had already been fed that day and to give the sandwiches to someone else in need.

“That really touched me. During tough times for this lady, she still showed the utmost honesty and was still caring and thinking of other people,” said Anthony.

“We also met up with one lady who had been homeless for 12 years, which is so hard to believe. But the majority of these people were still upbeat – just people who had been dealt some bad luck to reach this point in their lives.”

ANA Boxing Club is so grateful to the volunteers who helped make the mission possible and all members wish to thank everyone for their generosity.

“Each and every one of the volunteers treated the people on the streets with the greatest of respect. Everyone was smiling – it was a truly humbling experience,” said Anthony.

“We are truly blessed in Rhondda Cynon Taf to have warm-hearted people who care for others and will go that extra mile to help.

“All the volunteers knew that they had the support of so many people who had made the donations. It made me realise that we can all do more in life, at no real cost to us, that could save the lives of others.”

ANA Boxing Club’s amazing kind-hearted gesture, along with the support of the volunteers, has even attracted worldwide attention on social media, with a man in Australia donating £100 to the cause.

ANA Boxing Club would also like to thank Train Station Gym, Glynneath, and its owner Lee Venn, for their overwhelming support. Staff at the Temple Bar, Aberaman, also made up 115 packs of sandwiches, which were distributed on the streets to the homeless community.

Cllr Keiron Montague, Cabinet Member for Service Delivery, Communities and Housing, said: “The Council wishes to applaud the efforts of Anthony Trow, members of ANA Boxing Club and all of the volunteers on such an overwhelming act of kindness, especially at this time of year.

“Such a selfless act shows that no matter how tough things are, the people of Rhondda Cynon Taf are among the most generous people in Wales.

“Our thoughts always turn to those people less off than us at Christmas time, but homelessness is a problem 12 months of every year, affecting people of all ages.

“Young homeless people miss out on so much in life, apart from their immediate family circle. They may also miss out on education and training.

“But the Council can provide relevant advice linked to individuals personal needs and work closely with other agencies to help them get back home, or if necessary, provide temporary accommodation until other housing options can be explored.

“The Council will help guide individuals through the system and help people to get back on their feet.”

Anthony Trow, along with ANA Boxing Club and their team of volunteers, are now preparing for their next mission to help the homeless at Christmas - on the streets of Swansea on Tuesday, December 23.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Housing Advice Centre is there to provide specialist advice and support to people who need help with their housing, including people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Housing Advice Centre is situated at 11- 12 Gelliwasted Road, Pontypridd, CF37 2BW. Office opening hours are: Monday (9am until 5pm); Tuesday (noon until 5pm); Wednesday (9am until 5pm); Thursday (Telephone Contact Only); Friday (9am until 5pm.

Housing advice officers can also be contacted by calling Telephone number 01443 485515. The dedicated out-of-hours number is 01443 425001. Email: homelessness@rctcbc.gov.uk