Call for more personalised approach to homelessness

Staff and homeless call for better services in south Dublin project

School transport for children is one of the factors which families consider most important to better their experiences. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

School transport for children is one of the factors which families consider most important to better their experiences. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Homeless adults and children and service providers want a “more personalised” approach to dealing with homelessness, according to a new report from South Dublin Children and Young People’s Services Committee (CYPSC).

The report, Many Voices, No Homes – Voices from the Front line of Homelessness, collates the personal accounts of homeless people and those working in homeless services, and is accompanied by a photo exhibition at south Dublin County Council libraries in Tallaght and Clondalkin.

The report highlights a desire from both service users and providers for supports to be “more personalised with greater skills and capacity to engage each family’s unique set of needs and solutions”.

Published with the support of the Tallaght-based Childhood Development Initiative (CDI), it includes detailed accounts from 19 participants in south Dublin.

CDI chief executive Marian Quinn said staff shared many of the same frustrations as homeless service users.

“The extent to which their experiences and responses mirrors that of homeless families – in terms of frustration, hopelessness and feeling disempowered – is striking.”

The project was developed by sociologist and UCD research fellow Dr Maria Quinlan together with photographer and visual artist Patrick Bolger.

The aim of the approach was to “allow the voices of the ‘experts’ in this field – those experiencing homelessness, and those working alongside them – to comprehensively have their say both verbally and visually”, Dr Quinlan said.

“While the focus of the project is to identify recommendations, in many cases we already know these but they are not being implemented. However, this project gives insight into how these can be implemented in a way that addresses the lived day-to-day challenges,” she said.

Specialised training

The report recommended that staff in housing services are supported with specialised training in dealing with vulnerable, distressed groups who are potentially suffering from trauma.

Extra support should be in place for staff to assist families from the migrant community, including cultural-awareness training and language translation skills, it said.

There should be less reliance on phone interactions and more face-to-face engagement between families, services providers and frontline staff.

The report also sets out the practical things which families have said are most important to better their experiences such as: access to cooking and laundry facilities; assistance with securing rented accommodation; appropriate emergency accommodation services; support navigating the housing system; and school transportation for children.