As demand for addiction treatment doubles – 71% in detox cite substance abuse as primary cause of homelessness

Dublin Simon Community launches 2020 Annual Review

  • Addiction and substance abuse is cited by 71% of detox clients as the primary reason for becoming homeless
  • Increase in demand for Dublin Simon’s detox service have caused waiting times to almost double in a two-year period from 39 days in 2018 to 76 days in 2020
  • The average age of clients in residential detox services has dropped from 49 to 44 over the last five years
  • More than half (54%) of all people in Dublin Simon emergency accommodation in 2020 have been homeless for more than three years – 42% for more than five years
  • In 2020 almost 2,900 people were supported by tenancy sustainment teams

At today’s launch of the Dublin Simon Community Annual Review 2020, CEO Sam McGuinness highlighted the negative impact of long-term homelessness and the physical and mental health effects of addiction on the vulnerable homeless population.

He said: “The homeless population is living through the worst crisis we could ever have imagined.  Though I am heartened by some of the successes that we have delivered, there are people who are struggling to rebuild their lives because they are grappling with addiction, waiting longer to access alcohol and other drug detox services and reaching rock-bottom at a younger age than ever before.  Many of these people spend five years or more in emergency accommodation and are desperate to exit homelessness.

“The human toll is clear in the growth of demand for counselling and out-of-hours crisis support with a total of 3,875 interventions by Dublin Simon Community’s Sure Steps Counselling team in both day and out-of-hours services.

“In 2020 we worked with 7,617 adults and children and have achieved some very positive results.  Almost 2,900 adults and children were supported by our tenancy sustainment teams, this was facilitated by increased availability of accommodation freed up within the rental market due to the Covid-19 pandemic”, added Sam McGuinness.

The Dublin Simon Community Annual Review 2020 launched today with an experiential tour of selected Dublin Simon services entitled The Streets of Dublin Simon.  At each stop on the tour, staff members from Dublin Simon’s volunteering, client development, supported housing, treatment and outreach teams gave an overview the trends, achievements and challenges of each service area in 2020. The tour culminated at the construction site of the new €30 million 100-bed medical facility at Usher’s Island, where CEO Sam McGuinness spoke about the charity’s performance throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and its continued commitment to tackling homelessness.

With work now underway on a dedicated Dublin Simon Community 100-bed medical facility for the homeless sector, Majella Darcy, Head of Clinical Governance & Therapeutic Services reiterated the need for more health supports for those experiencing homelessness.

“When the pandemic began we were facing a situation where we knew that the most prevalent reason for admission to our Step-Up Step down Unit in the previous year was a respiratory condition.  This meant that the homeless population were at exceptionally high-risk of infection and poor outcome.  We moved quickly to adapt the way we delivered services, ensuring the safety of our vulnerable clients and frontline healthcare staff.”

She added: “We have had an enormous success in keeping people safe during this Covid crisis but we need to ensure that we can meet the demand for addiction treatment, in particular drug stabilisation, and mental health supports that are so urgently needed at this time. Critical is the delivery and implementation of healthcare initiatives outlined in the recent Housing for All programme.”

Full details of the 2020 Annual Review are available here.

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