‘You don’t exist without an address’: New postal service for homeless praised

An Post says the Address Point service is the first of its type in Europe

‘People take having an address for granted,’ said Dublin man Derek McGuire, who has just moved into temporary accommodation. Photograph: Maxwell’s

‘People take having an address for granted,’ said Dublin man Derek McGuire, who has just moved into temporary accommodation. Photograph: Maxwell’s

 

An Post has introduced a free personal postal address and letter collection service for people who are homeless or living in temporary accommodation.

The service, which An Post say is the first of its type in Europe, has 200 participating post offices around the country.

Address Point generates a personal address based on the person’s choice of local post office, which will also be their mail collection point.

In conjunction with services providers and charities working in the area of homelessness, an instant address is generated online using a mobile phone or laptop, for use on all correspondence, and then mail is collected on production of photo ID at the post office of choice.

Should a person move to a new locality, a new address can be immediately generated, linked to a post office in the new location.

Dublin man Derek McGuire, who has just moved into temporary accommodation after living on the streets said having no postal address affects the homeless in numerous ways.

“People take having an address for granted. It’s only when you’re on the streets and need to access basic things like social welfare payments or applying for a job that you realise how necessary it is,” he said.

“When I became homeless, my mental and physical health went into decline. I was ending up in accident and emergency departments as opposed to normal channels because I didn’t have the necessary medical card of social welfare recipient card because I didn’t have a postal address I could use,” said Mr McGuire.

“Without having address, your problems as a homeless person are compounded a hundred fold. For instance, I love reading but if you want to access a library you are facing roadblocks because you can’t get membership without a postal address. As a homeless person without a postal address; you don’t exist or have an identity,”he said.

“This initiative is one of the most practical thing that has been done to help the homeless and it is immediate and will make such a difference to people’s lives. It’s gives us autonomy and independence,” he said.

Managing director of An Post Retail Debbie Byrne said the company set out to devise a solution that respected people’s privacy.

“We are keenly aware of the difficulties which can result from people not having a reliable, secure mailing address or letter collection point to access vital services we all take for granted and in looking for a job,” said Ms Byrne.

Head of Communications at Peter McVerry Trust Francis Doherty said Address point was “a personal and practical service that will make a real difference to people’s lives.”

“From medical appointments to service applications or keeping in touch with family, having a secure address may seem like a small thing, but it brings huge benefits to people who are homeless and to others living in temporary accommodation,” said Mr Doherty.

An Post is providing all the charities, service providers and local authorities with information leaflets about Address Point to assist them in advising their clients about accessing the service.

These groups include: Dublin Simon, Focus Ireland, Peter McVerry Trust, Merchant’s Quay Ireland, St. Vincent de Paul, Capuchin Day Centre, Threshold, Inner City Helping Homeless, Cross Care and Dublin City Council Homeless Executive.