Focus Ireland reports assisting record numbers in 2018

Homeless charity says it supported more than 15,500 people last year

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan: ’Sometimes I think that many people have come to believe that it is impossible to end homelessness’

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan: ’Sometimes I think that many people have come to believe that it is impossible to end homelessness’

 

More than 15,500 people were supported by Focus Ireland last year, a record number for the homeless charity.

The figures are a rise of more than 7 per cent from the 14,500 people helped in 2017 and a 14 per cent increase on the previous year.

The charity, which unveiled its annual report for 2018 in Dublin on Thursday, said its housing wing provided an additional 176 homes last year.

It is also on track to provide around 750 additional homes over the next five years.

Focus Ireland chief executive Pat Dennigan said it owned or managed 1,176 homes for people who were previously homeless or at risk by the end of 2018.

“Sometimes I think that many people have come to believe that it is impossible to end homelessness. We have even seen some try to spin the housing and homelessness crisis as an unavoidable cost of the economic recovery in recent years.

“However, that takes no account of the damage this crisis continues to inflict on people and families all over the country,” he said.

“Focus Ireland continues to believe this crisis can be ended. Our annual report sets out the part we play in working towards trying to make this happen.”

The report outlines the charity served a total of 44,276 hot meals and provided advice and information to 5,891 people last year.

The charity also supported more than 500 families out of homelessness in 2018.

The charity’s founder, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, said the consistent response by the Government in recent years to homelessness “has been to say that it takes time to tackle the crisis.

“However, the nearly 4,000 children who are homeless don’t have time. They are having their childhoods stolen by homelessness and every day spent homeless is doing them harm,” she said.

“I am very concerned about the Government’s continued focus on the delivery of family hubs rather than permanent homes.

“The Government admits that hubs are only a ‘first response’ but there is still no sign of them delivering a long-term second plan to deal with the crisis we are facing,” she said.

“We need the Government to set a cast-iron deadline that no person or family would be homeless for longer than six months and we also need a detailed sub-strategy on family homelessness to get to grips with this ever deepening crisis [where] a total of 10,275 people are now homeless.”

The charity said that prevention and support are the key factors needed to stop the crisis from worsening.

Michael Layde, the chairman of Focus Ireland, said giving homeless people hope is the charity’s ultimate goal.

“Hope is really what Focus stands for. People have not just lost their homes, they’ve also lost hope.”