The number of people in Laois availing of homeless services increased by 33% in 2014, a rise which is pushing the service provided by the Midlands Simon Community to breaking point.
In the same week that Minister Alan Kelly announced that 35,000 additional social housing units will be created nationally, the local Simon Community has revealed that until the end of November there were 78 people who were either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in Laois.
Mr Tony O’Riordan of the Midlands Simon Community said that with such a large increase in demand, coupled with cuts of 12.27% in funding, their service is at breaking point.
“Our Regional Settlement Service, which supported 56% more cases in 2014, was independently reviewed and it was found that the proportion of service users accessing independent living is at least ten times the national average,” Mr O’Riordan explained.
The heart-breaking story of homeless man, Jonathan Corrie, passing away just a stone’s throw from Leinster House just highlights the issue of homelessness. Mr O’Riordan continued. “Unfortunately Mr Corrie’s story is not a unique one, and it is not confined to Dublin or other large cities. Homelessness is everywhere throughout the country and it is worth noting that there is no community anywhere in Ireland that has no evidence of homelessness.”
Mr O’Riordan said that the Midlands Simon Community help make home a reality for those in need of services, with supports every step of the way, for as long as they need them. He said the Midlands Simon Community are fortunate to have a strong partnership with Laois County Council and HSE, and the Midlands is the only region in the State where there is an inter-agency homeless action team meeting regularly to co-ordinate a response.
Mr O’Riordan also met recently with Minister Kelly to discuss the stark increase in demand for homeless services and limited State funding of just 1.5% of overall homeless budget allocated for Midlands counties.
The public can support Midlands Simon Community this Christmas by texting SIMON to 50300 to donate €4. All donations go to Midlands Simon Community across most network operators.
Laois Friends of Simon have a number of fundraising activities in the run up to Christmas and are always looking for volunteers. To help out, please call Michael Martin on 086 1223421.