WALES is failing its most vulnerable, an Assembly Member has said.

Jack Sargeant, AM for Alyn and Deeside said a country is judged on how it treats its most vulnerable and Wales is ‘failing’ those who are homeless.

The AM led a short debate at the Senedd to focus on the barrier that many people face when they get off the streets.

He said: "For me, personally, especially if I've had a difficult day, whether that's in work, personal circumstances or whether it's my football team losing, there are few better things than being welcomed home by my dog, Joseph.

"Now, who is going to look after Joey if my family and I go away for the weekend is often an issue we face. Unfortunately, that's the reality every single evening for someone sleeping rough or someone who is homeless.

"One person sleeping rough on our streets is one person too many. Rough sleeping is sadly evident in all major towns and cities, but, unlike in the past, it is now also increasing in all of our local communities and villages.

“This is not acceptable, and, in my view, it is not inevitable. Decent housing should be a basic human right in a rich country like ours.”

Mr Sargeant told members of the time he stayed on the streets of Chester and tried to sell the Big Issue to see what it was like to be homeless.

He added: “Both of these experiences showed me the importance of community and the importance of not being a bystander.

“The worst part of those experiences was having people walk past you looking down; the sense of isolation was awful.”

The AM said that for many, owning a dog is the only means of contact and a source of strength, the ‘sole light of someone’s existence’.

However, some accommodation providers operate a ‘no dogs policy’ as less than 10 per cent of hostels in the UK are dog friendly.

The Dogs Trust leads the Hope Project which encourages hostels to be openly accessible.

Across Wales ,just eight hostels operate a dog-friendly policy and eighteen out of 22 local authorities have no dog friendly hostels at all.

Mr Sargeant said: “Dogs on the street, whether you agree with it or not, are here to stay.

“some will say that the person looking for accommodation should just give away their dog.

“I could never do that, and that is a decision they definitely should not have to make. There are many benefits to accepting dogs into hostels, not just for the owners and the dogs themselves, but for staff and other residents.

“When homeless people are forced to choose between their dog and a hostel place, most will, understandably, choose to stay with their dog, as their dog is most often their best friend, their companion.

“The bond between any dog owner and a dog is a strong one, but it will never be more so than with that of homeless people.”

Mr Sargeant went on to say that opening shelters to dogs will ensure they have advice and support and the dog can access veterinary schemes.

He said: “Let's change what I and so many others see as a major injustice, not only to people that are homeless, but to their dogs too."