Sr. Stan - Irish Times Opinion Piece - 4th December

(04 Dec 2014)

Four things Government should do to help homeless people

I write this with sadness after the tragic death of a man sleeping rough this week. I offer my own – and Focus Ireland’s – deepest condolences to the family of Jonathan Corrie. May he rest in peace. There must be time to grieve, for privacy and respect.

As a society we must ask what can be done to prevent future tragedies?

Rough-sleeping is getting worse. Latest figures show a 20 per cent rise in the numbers sleeping rough in Dublin since last year and an increase in Cork.

Staff from Focus Ireland’s street outreach team (run in partnership with Peter McVerry Trust) are on the streets every night.

They help get people into emergency accommodation.

This is difficult as the emergency system is struggling to cope. Some nights there are not enough beds. Also, people don’t want to go to some hostels as they don’t feel safe there for many reasons – including addiction and mental health. Hostels don’t meet everybody’s needs, but the bottom line is that there must be enough quality emergency accommodation – with supports.

People who have addiction issues should have access to specialised services such as Focus Ireland’s Caretakers Hostel which caters specially for people rough sleeping with addiction issues. There must also be enough beds in other facilities which are drug free.

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