Jan O’Sullivan launches Cork Simon’s Annual Report

Jan O’Sullivan T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Housing and Planning, today (Thursday, 12 July) launched Cork Simon Community’s Annual Report for 2011.

The Report highlights a fall in rough sleeping inCorkin 2011 and a rise in the number of people long-term homeless, defined by Government as stays of six months or more in emergency accommodation because people have no other options.

Speaking at the launch, Cork Simon’s Chief Executive, Dermot Kavanagh, emphasised the progress that has been made in tackling homelessness in Cork. He said, “Despite the tough times, fewer people than ever slept rough in 2011. This progress has been achieved by using a proactive model of outreach, by effective partnership and by ensuring that there are sufficient beds in place for all people who are homeless.”

Launching the report, Minister Jan O’Sullivan said, “The focus that Cork Simon has always placed on the dignity and respect that each citizen deserves has always closely mirrored my philosophy towards people who are homeless and I intend to see that philosophy reflected in Government policy”.

Describing 2011 as a milestone year for Cork Simon, Dave Ronayne, Chair of Cork Simon’s Board of Directors, said, “During our milestone 40th year we managed to open three new high-support beds at no extra ongoing cost, we saw the number of people having to sleep rough fall, we saw a record number of people volunteering and we developed a new strategic plan for the next three years.”

Referring to the plan, Dermot Kavanagh said Cork Simon’s overarching objective over the next three years is to eliminate long-term homelessness and the need to sleep rough in cork. Referring to long-term homelessness, he said, “When people come to our shelter almost half are able to move on within one week and more than two thirds within one month. Nonetheless almost one in five shelter residents are stuck in homelessness six months later because there are no move-on options for them. The number of people long-term homeless supported by Cork Simon has grown more than threefold over the last five years.”

Speaking at the launch, Minister O’Sullivan said that work is now almost complete on updating the national homeless strategy. She said “As a Government we share the belief that prevention is better than cure. We are determined to reform policy to ensure that homelessness is tackled in a more planned and strategic way; to providing housing and resettlement solutions and supports rather than managing people in long term homeless facilities”.

Dermot Kavanagh said he’s heartened by government’s housing-led approach to tackling homelessness. He said, “Without doubt the shortage of appropriate housing has been the single biggest obstacle to people moving from emergency accommodation quickly. But supports must go hand in hand with housing. We’ve developed a range of supports that are effective in ending homelessness for many marginalised citizens. We’re looking forward to working with the Minister and her team in continuing our housing-led approach.”

Acknowledging a hugely effective community-wide response to homelessness in Cork, Dermot Kavanagh said “The achievements of 2011, the tremendous support from businesses and individuals throughout Cork and the effective partnerships with other voluntary providers, City Council, HSE and Government create strong foundations for continuing to make progress in tough times. By working together and believing in people, we’re making a big difference”.

The production and distribution of Cork Simon’s Annual Report for 2011 was kindly sponsored by PepsiCo Ireland.

Cork Simon Community Annual Report 2011 – Key Points.

Despite the times we are in, the number of people having to sleep rough continued to fall. A record low of 38 people were recorded as sleeping rough on at least one night in 2011 down from 352 people in 2008.

Cork still has enough emergency beds so that no one has to sleep rough. As soon as Coke Simon’s Outreach Team becomes aware of people sleeping rough they are supported to come off the streets as quickly as possible.

Long-term homelessness has been increasing steadily since 2007. Long-term homelessness is defined by Government as stays of six months or more in emergency accommodation. Throughout 2011, 76 people in Cork Simon’s Emergency Shelter were long-term homeless – compared to 24 in 2007. This represents a more than three-fold increase.

In all cases the solution to long-term homeless is to provide stable housing with immediate access to all the necessary supports.

Cork Simon’s goal for the future is to eliminate the need to sleep rough inCorkand to eliminate long-term homelessness – too many people are stuck in emergency accommodation for over six months because they have no other option.

2011 saw the highest number of people volunteering at Cork Simon in its forty year history; people giving up their time, sharing their skills and bringing an energy and vitality to the Community.

There has been a marked increase in the number of women using Cork Simon services over recent years. The number of women using the Emergency Shelter has increased by 63% since 2008.

Cork Simon Community in 2011:

Cork Simon’s 44 bed Emergency Shelter was full every night – in all, 411 people were accommodated in the shelter over the course of the year;

Almost 20% of Shelter residents were female – the highest ever number;

The number of women long-term homeless increased by 86% compared to 2010;

34% of first time Shelter residents were under 26 years of age;

70 people stayed at Cork Simon’s five high-support houses – an increase of 19% compared to the previous year;

87 people were supported by Cork Simon’s Housing Support Team – supporting people who are rebuilding their lives and living in flats provided by Cork Simon, Housing Associations, the private rented sector and Local Authorities;

61 young people (aged 18 – 26 years) were supported by Cork Simon’s Youth Homeless Drug Prevention Project.

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