The homeless and housing charity calls for significant increase in health funding
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mícheál MacDonncha, today (26 September) launched the Dublin Simon Community 2016 Annual Impact Report at the Mansion House.Speaking at the event, Sam McGuinness, CEO of the Dublin Simon Community, said that while the numbers of people becoming homeless has quadrupled in almost a decade, investment in health care declined.“In 2008, the health spend was €36 million with 1,388 homeless adults using emergency accommodation in Dublin. In 2017, with almost 6,000 people in emergency beds, the figure is at €32.6 million, a 10% decrease. Since 2014, the spend on health and homelessness has seen a marginal rise of 8% however there has been a 170% increase in homelessness in Dublin during same time period. “The lack of appropriate health investment, mental health and addiction services is causing lasting damage to people who are homeless. We see every day in our services the devastating impact this is having on our clients, as the range of mental health and social care services are simply not there. The wider societal impact of this is untold as we continue to face the worst homeless crisis in the history of our state. Mr. McGuinness continued to demonstrate the enormous challenge at hand, saying that action needs to come from multiple sides.“Housing alone will not solve the homeless crisis. Last year we continued to increase our efforts in health, housing, outreach and supports; acquiring 40% more accommodation units, preventing more households (1,127 households including 1,185 children) from becoming homeless and providing 46% increase in numbers accessing treatment, recovery and counselling services. “However, the growing number of people who are looking for help means we must do more. Since 2008, Dublin Simon Community’s treatment health spend has increased to €2.3 million, with donor and other support making up a 54% shortfall in funding. This year we begin plans to expand from 64 to 125 medical treatment beds, which will be very challenging to deliver due to the largely inadequate health budget.” Mr. McGuinness continued to emphasise the urgent need for appropriate health care:“The constant flow of new people into emergency accommodation is now eight new adults a day in Dublin. Combine this with a lack of move on accommodation and we are finding that more and more people are literally stuck, with their physical and mental state deteriorating all the time. Our 2016 figures show that almost everyone (93%) in our emergency accommodation is now considered to be long-term homeless (longer than six months) and their length of stay has grown by a third in a year.“A large percentage of people who are homeless have been exposed to some form of previous trauma, and can often have severe mental health and substance use issues, making it difficult to cope with the numerous hurdles they have to master in order to exit homelessness. A 2015 survey of Homeless people in Dublin and Limerick revealed 52% were diagnosed with depression, 57% have had suicidal thoughts, whilst 38% had self-harmed and 36% had attempted suicide. This is extremely high when compared to the general population. This cannot be solved by merely providing a bed for the night.”Mr. McGuinness said that they were eagerly awaiting the review of Rebuilding Ireland.“Based on our experience and successes in preventing, supporting and moving people out of homelessness in 2016, Dublin Simon Community knows we can do more. However without increased health spending to match the nearly 6,000 adults and children who are homeless, we are struggling to keep up with the overwhelming demand for treatment beds and mental health services.“Ahead of the budget announcement and the review of Rebuilding Ireland, we must have fast and targeted measures from all agencies. We need a particular focus on health, prevention measures to stop the daily flow into homelessness, aswell as the move on accommodation for those who are long term homeless.”Speaking at the launch, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mícheál MacDonncha, said:“I am proud to be here today to launch Dublin Simon Community’s Annual Impact Report 2016 and would like to congratulate their residents, clients, volunteers and staff for all that they have achieved in the last year. As the homeless and housing crisis has sadly escalated at a rapid rate, Dublin Simon Community continue to be there at the frontline. Their teams provide life-changing support to people most in need, giving hope during this time of great uncertainty and helping people find their way back to a safe place to call home.”
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FROM DUBLIN SIMON COMMUNITY’S ANNUAL IMPACT REPORT 2016:
Dublin Simon Community provided services to 5,100 people and families across Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare and Meath throughout 2016, a 32% increase in caseload in the last year.
Emergency Accommodation and Outreach Services
- 836 People accessed our emergency accommodation with care plans focusing on health, life skills and education, 21% increase since 2015.
- 19,200 Contacts were made by our outreach team and soup run offering vital support to people sleeping rough.
- 1,588 People were provided with housing assistance, harm reduction and medical services by our Rough Sleeper Team.
- 968 GP consultations took place at the Mobile Health Unit, in partnership with Safetynet.
Housing and Property
- 40% Increase in our accommodation units during the year.
- 312 Adults and Children were in permanent homes provided by Dublin Simon Community by the end of 2016.
- 250,000 Meals were provided across our residential services with our kitchens providing nourishing food to improve wellbeing.
- 1,127 Households were supported to prevent them from homelessness through our sustainment and resettlement services across Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Meath, 27% increase since 2015.
- 1,185 Children were supported through our homelessness prevention and resettlement services.
Addiction Treatment, Recovery and Counselling
- 1,023 People accessed our Medical Residential Treatment, Recovery and Counselling services, a 46% increase since 2015.
- 2,135 Hours of 1:1 counselling and mental health support were received by clients accessing Sure Steps Counselling, a 25% increase since 2015.
Participation and Development
- 254 People expanded and developed their skills and education, with 40 people coming through our employability initiatives.