Number of people sleeping rough in Cork falls for first time in years
Cork Simon says more than 14,000 donors helped charity raise €4.5m
An additional 15 emergency accommodation places through the Cork Simon’s Nightlight service meant that 425 people we assisted last year. Photograph: Getty Images
The number of people sleeping rough in Cork fell by almost a quarter last year, homelessness charity Cork Simon has said.
Cork Simon director Dr Dermot Kavanagh said, as the charity launched its 2018 annual report, that it was a challenging period which was notable for the first reduction in rough sleeper numbers in years.
The charity said the number of people sleeping rough in Cork city fell by 23 per cent with instances of people sleeping rough falling from an average of 19 per night in 2017 to 12 per night last year.
Dr Kavanagh said the provision of 15 additional emergency accommodation places through the charity’s Nightlight service meant that a total of 425 people we assisted last year, an increase of some 25 per cent on 2017.
He said that between the emergency shelter and the Nightlight service, an average of 57 people per night relied on Cork Simon for emergency accommodation in the city throughout the year.
The number of people turned away from the emergency shelter due to it being full fell by almost 94 per cent. For the first time in four years, the number of long term homeless people the charity engaged with did not increase, remaining static at 57.
Dr Kavanagh said Cork Simon supported an average of 33 people per night with its soup run last year with almost a quarter of these living in private rented accommodation.
He said the charity secured 24 additional housing units from social rentals and other approved housing bodies as well as purchasing five properties. This resulted in 43 people moving to secure and affordable independent housing with visiting support and to high support/aftercare housing – a 54 per cent increase on 2017.
He said that Cork Simon’s addiction and aftercare treatment programme supported a total of 40 people.
In total, 1,103 people were supported across all Cork Simon services with some 824 part-time volunteers and 38 full time volunteers assisting last year during which some 14,446 donors raised €4.5 million to support the charity.
In a first for Cork Simon, Jennifer Dennehy, a former service user, now living independently for more than four years, launched the annual report at Cork Simon’s Clanmornin House on the Boreenmanna Road.
Ms Dennehy spoke of her experience and how the trauma of her partner’s untimely death led to a drug relapse and homelessness before her recovery and a struggle to find secure, affordable housing.
“Within a few weeks, I lost my home, I lost my child, I lost the man I loved - everything,” she said. “Drugs took everything from me. I tried treatment but I wasn’t ready to deal with the pain of everything and the guilt because I was guilt-ridden.
“I left treatment and ended up on the street. I’ve lived a living hell but have come out the other side. To have my own door, to feel safe at night, there’s nothing like it. I’m blessed to have the place and the support from Cork Simon.”
Ms Dennehy added: “I felt I had to survive so I put a mask on. Today that mask is off and I am who I was always meant to be - a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a grand-daughter and hopefully someone who can help others.
“I want to let other people that are in addiction, and their families that are going through hard times, know that there’s always hope there, there’s always help there – you’ve just got to be willing to accept it.”