Simon says homeless services ‘at breaking point’

Charity says a 60 per cent increase in homelessness in Dublin coincided with cuts

The Simon Community says there were 139 people sleeping rough in Dublin last month.

The Simon Community says there were 139 people sleeping rough in Dublin last month.

Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 01:00

The Simon Community has warned services are at “breaking point” after cuts in funding coincided with an increase of 60 per cent in the numbers of people sleeping rough.

Launching the annual report for 2012 this morning, head of policy and communications at the homeless charity Niamh Randall said the report showed a 24 per cent increase in the number of people seeking either meals, accommodation or soup from the nightly ‘soup run’.

She said the situation had worsened considerably since last year.

She noted the 2012 report found 87 people were sleeping rough in Dublin in November. “This November, that figure had risen to 139, an increase of 60 per cent,” she said.

The worsening situation had coincided with cuts in funding meaning the services provided by Simon Communities across the State – which range from shelters to longer term accommodation with medical support for HIV positive addicts, to soup runs are at at breaking point.

Highlights of the 2012 report include:½

* Some 5,254 people using Simon Community services

* More then 3,600 volunteers

* More then 248,000 meals provided

* 320 long term accommodation units provided

* Soup runs 365 nights a year

* Eight Simon shops operating.

Ms Randall said the charity was not paying “top ups”to staff, and there “is no unvouched expenses, company cars and no large salaries”.

Its accounts are all available for inspection she said.

The “worst thing” about the recent controversy over charitable donations was that “it is the service users who suffer from reduced giving”, she said.

“We in Simon believe that the Government’s commitment to ending long term homelessness by 2016, although, challenging is one that can and must be achieved. But it will take real political will and the support of all Cabinet members,” she said.

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