Statement from Dublin Simon Community regarding Covid-19 Recognition Payment Scheme

Dublin Simon Community supports today’s statement from the Homeless Network regarding the exclusion of frontline homeless sector workers from the Covid-19 Recognition Payment.

The charity is adding its voice to demands for the Taoiseach and Minister for Health to include those who worked tirelessly to keep Ireland’s vulnerable homeless population safe throughout the pandemic.

Speaking today, Dublin Simon CEO, Sam McGuinness, said: “We have shared directly with our Taoiseach and Minister for Health shocking stories of the first-hand experiences of our frontline staff and the experiences they went through to ensure stability and safety within our residential and clinical settings.  It is shameful that, despite this group meeting all published criteria for inclusion in the recognition payment scheme, this group is still being overlooked.

“Dublin Simon frontline workers describe periods of up to a month where they did not see their families directly for fear of putting vulnerable clients and their own relatives at risk.  They often could not hug their own children for weeks at a time and they lived in fear of bringing the virus home or bringing it back into the workplace and infecting residents.  In some heartbreaking cases frontline workers from overseas lost close family members to Covid without having a chance to say goodbye.

“This group are not people who simply followed protocols, these are people who went far beyond what could be realistically expected of any frontline worker, making enormous personal sacrifices and putting their own wellbeing on the line to ensure the safety of residents locked down in homeless accommodation, regularly doing 24 hour shifts and going long periods without a day off.  As a society we owe these people a debt of gratitude for how they stepped up to ensure the safety of one of society’s most vulnerable groups, but it appears that our Government is not willing to do this in any meaningful way”, added Mr McGuinness.

The Homeless Network represents all the main homeless organisations in Dublin and Chairperson, Catherine Kenny, who also works with Dublinn Simon Community, said: “Ireland is recognised as having one of the lowest death rates from Covid-19 among people who are homeless, and this is partly due to the diligence of these workers, who continued to show up for work.  There is simply no logic for the Government to fail to include this Group in the recognition scheme.”

The Homeless Network Statement is available by clicking here.