Media Kit - Fast Facts about Simon and our Services
The Simon communities throughout Ireland provide care and accommodation and support for people experiencing homelessness and those at risk. Together, with people who are homeless, Simon seeks to tackle the root causes, promote innovation and urge the government to fulfil their commitments. Simon delivers support and services to between 4,500 and 5,000 individuals and families who experience or are at risk of homelessness on an annual basis.
Simon works with:
People who are currently homeless,
People who were previously homeless and need ongoing support to maintain their home,
People who are at risk of becoming homeless.
At Simon our first step is to provide a safe, warm environment with access to food and hygiene facilities. We work to provide secure housing for people who are homeless as quickly as possible. We offer immediate support in addressing any issues that people may be experiencing e.g. physical and mental health issues, problematic drug and/or alcohol use.
Simon provides a range of effective services throughout Ireland embracing a housing led approach including:
Housing provision, tenancy sustainment and settlement services; housing advice and information services helping people to make the move out of homelessness and working with households at risk;
Specialist health and treatment services addressing some of the other issues that may be experienced which may have contributed to people becoming homeless in the first place or may be a consequence of their experience of homelessness;
Emergency accommodation and support providing people with a place of welcome, warmth and safety;
Soup runs and rough sleeper teams who are often the first point of contact for people sleeping rough.
Homelessness can mean sleeping rough, staying in emergency hostels or shelters, staying in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation or staying with friends and relatives when there is nowhere else to go. Homelessness is all of these things. For people experiencing homelessness it is about a lack of security, a lack of belonging and often about being cold, sick and isolated.
The current economic climate means more people are at risk of homelessness than ever before with further cut backs in health, education, welfare services and training more people will become homeless and turn to the Simon Communities for support.
The Simon Community works to influence local and national government and lobby for change. We support the existing government commitments to tackle homelessness. We welcome the ‘Housing First’ approach which is endorsed in the Programme for Government 2011 and reiterated in the Housing Policy Statement. The Housing First/housing led approach will work so long as it avoids a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and embraces multiple exits from homelessness and a range of support models.
Simon is about believing in people; believing in the people who turn to the eight local Simon communities around the country every day; believing in the thousands of volunteers and Simon supporters, and believing that with the appropriate housing, care and support people can and do leave homelessness behind
Causes of Homelessness
There are many reasons why a person becomes homeless; in Simon we deal with them all working with up to 5,000 people every year. Generally the experiences that lead to homelessness are underpinned by poverty and structural inequality. Causes tend to be divided into the following:
Structural Causes: These can include poverty, unemployment, and lack of good quality, affordable housing. More people are now at risk of becoming homeless as a result of the financial crisis which has impacted on the most vulnerable in society and has made more and more people vulnerable. With a high unemployment rate, more and more people are now experiencing poverty and it is becoming more difficult for people to get out of poverty. Also, with no social housing being built there is a shortage of affordable housing for people on little or no income.
Institutional Causes: People who have lived in foster care and young people leaving care are at high risk of becoming homeless. Also people leaving prison or mental health institutions with nowhere to go to on their release/discharge can end up homeless. Services need to ensure that when people are leaving institutional care that they have a place to go.
Relationship Causes: This can include an abusive relationship or family breakdown. Either way, one or more people may need to leave the home and may have nowhere to go. Death in a family can also be a cause of homelessness as the person may not be able to afford accommodation on one income.
Personal Causes: This can include mental illness, learning difficulties, problematic alcohol or/and drug use. . If a person has one or more of these problems, they may find it difficult to manage the home they are in or it may lead to other problems such as losing job and inability to pay mortgage/rent or relationship breakdown and have to leave the home.
Generally it is a combination of these factors that result in a person becoming homeless. For example, if someone lost their job and their relationship broke down, they may have to leave the family home but not be able to afford to rent alternative accommodation.
How many people are homeless?
Each year the Simon Communities work with up to 5,000 people in Ireland. Being homeless is more than not having a roof over your head or sleeping rough, a greater number of people and families are staying in emergency accommodation like B&B's, hostels, staying in squats or with family and friends as they have nowhere else to go. If you would like to view the current figurers on the number of people who are homeless click here
There is difficulty in attaining an accurate figure for people who are homeless. In Ireland there are two main sources of obtaining data on people who are homeless. The Housing Needs Assessment and Counted In. In 2011 for the first time the CSO counted the number of people who were homeless on Census night. All of these figures limited. In addition, they are snapshot figures meaning they are only collecting at a point in time.
3,808 people were counted in accommodation providing shelter for people who are homeless or were identified as sleeping rough on Census Night 2011.
There was no self-identification question on homelessness on the Census form. In the methodology used by the CSO people were classified as being homeless on the basis of where they spent Census Night.
Housing Needs Assessments
The 2011 Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) indentified 98, 318 households who were in need of social housing. Of those, 2, 348 households who were homeless; 1, 708 households who were living in unfit accommodation and 4,594 living in overcrowded accommodation. In addition, 8, 534 households were involuntarily sharing and 64, 643 were not reasonably able to meet the cost of their accommodation.
The Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) is undertaken every three years and includes people who are deemed to be in need of local authority housing at the exact time the survey is conducted. It excludes those not on the local authority lists and people in transitional housing, residential supported units etc.
Counted In 2008
Counted In 2008 identified 2, 144 households (2, 366 people) who were homeless in Dublin; 369 households (411 people) who are homeless in Cork city (only); 157 households (160 people) who were homeless in Galway city (only). There were also 214 households (220 people) who were homeless in Limerick city (only).
‘Counted In’ counts the number of persons using homeless services at a particular time in a particular place. 2008 This is the only time ‘Counted In’ was undertaken in cities outside Dublin.
For media enquires please contact:
Linda Mc Kenny
Mobile: 085 806 51 41
Tel:01 47 27 202