It is widely acknowledged that structural issues such as poverty and social exclusion lie at the root of homelessness therefore it is only by addressing both the structures causes and the consequence that homeless can be tackled effectively. Homeless policy in Ireland is working towards a ‘Housing led’ approach which aims to provide housing, with support as required, as the initial step in addressing all forms of homelessness. This must be pursued as a matter of urgency. Housing is an important part of the solution, but homelessness is about more than housing; it is also about physical and mental health, it is about drug and alcohol use, and it is sometimes about many related needs (complex needs). Therefore, appropriate housing support and health and social care support based on need must be provided and for those who need more intensive, ongoing support high support housing must be an option. We seek influence the approach of Government and key policy and decision makers via our campaigning and policy activities.
The Simon Communities of Ireland are represented in all major national policy fora and at key stakeholder meetings including the National Homeless Consultative Committee (NHCC), the Data Subgroup of the NHCC and regular Bi Lateral Meetings with the Department of the Environment. Community and Local Government. We lobby key stakeholders involved in shaping national homeless policy and other policy areas which impact on the lives of people who are homeless e.g. health policy, and drug and alcohol policy. We support these activities by making submissions where appropriate opportunities arise.
In addition, we also participate in a range of partnerships and networks with other organisations that share our aims e.g. MakeRoom Alliance - together with St Vincent de Paul, Focus Ireland and Threshold; Mental Health Reform, Community Platform; the Advocacy Initiative; the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN); and FEANTSA - the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless. We are committed to evidence based policy making and base our campaigning on the most reliable evidence available.
Health & Homelessness - Health Snapshot Study of People using Simon Projects and Services in Ireland
There are many different reasons why a person becomes homeless, but generally the explanation lies in a combination of structural factors (such as poverty or unemployment) and personal factors (such as family breakdown or health problems). What is clear is that once a person becomes homeless, the deterioration in their physical and mental health can be both rapid and debilitating.
This Health Snap Shotstudy attempts to address an information deficit in relation to some of the people who use Simon projects and services around the country. It explores health status, both physical and mental; drug and alcohol use and the health implications; and access to medical services amongst other issues. Understanding the health needs of people who become homeless is critical to developing, designing and improving, not only homeless services, but also health and other related services.
This study was conducted during a one week period from July 26th to August 1st 2010. Seven hundred and eighty-eight (788) people participated in this research, a sample of people using Simon Community projects and services during this one week. It is important to note that this is not all of the people who were in contact with the Simon Communities during the week in question. This snapshot study is however a significant sample of people who use the projects and services and thus can be used as a basis to generalise about the health and support needs of people who use Simon services
Multiple Barriers, Multiple Solutions: Inclusion Into and Through Employment For People Who are Homeless in Europe - National Report for Ireland -An overview of the barriers faced by people experiencing homelessness to securing employment in Ireland. The report includes an examination of the employment profile of people who are homeless; the specific barriers to employment; the policy and legal context; employment initiatives that are in place for people experiencing homelessness; training for employers to reduce barriers; cooperation between stakeholders; funding of interventions to reduce barriers; data collection and research; employment rights; and indicators and success factors. Published in July 2007, this was the Simon Communities of Ireland response to the FEANTSA Annual Theme Questionnaire.
Settlement First: An Assessment of the Efficacy of the 1988 Housing Act and the Integrated Strategy in meeting the needs of people who are homeless -A comprehensive contemporary analysis of the efficacy of current homelessness legislation and policy in meeting the housing needs of people who are homeless. It recommends a fundamental shift in policy towards a 'settlement first' model - ie meeting housing needs as a first priority.
Full report Part I
Full report Part II
Housing Access for All? -This research, jointly undertaken with Focus Ireland, Threshold and Society of St Vincent de Paul examines the Housing Strategies and Homeless Action Plans in 2002.