The work of Midlands Simon in Westmeath,Longford, Offaly and Laois is both life changing and enhancing for individuals and families who avail of its services, Mairead McGuinness, MEP for the Midlands and first Vice-President of the European Parliament, told a fundraising event on Sunday in Athlone.
“The focus on a housing first policy and the provision of support services by way of key workers to service users in their home is an essential part of the service, placing the needs of the individual and families involved at the core of the work,” Ms. McGuinness noted.
The MEP praised the Presentation Sisters for their engagement with Midlands Simon, not only by providing state-of-the-art office facilities rent free to the organisation in Athlone but also providing land for the construction of new homes.
“The Presentation Sisters are providing a great service to the community and meeting a real need in a very practical way,” the MEP commented.
Ms. McGuinness said homelessness is not confined to big cities and there needs to be an adequate provision of funding to regional centres like Athlone.
“I know there are concerns about funding for emergency beds in Athlone which needs to be addressed,” the MEP emphasised.
The MEP said the links which Midlands Simon is making at European level through SMES (Mental Health Social Exclusion ) are really important for the exchange of best practice when it comes to meeting, not just the challenges of homelessness but also linked challenges including mental health and addiction.
“SMES Europa is an important network and by being part of this network Midlands Simon both contributes its experience and learns from that of others.
“There’s much work to be done to break down administrative silos in Government departments and agencies, especially in providing mental health services that meet the needs of the person, the system needs to adapt to focus more on need from the perspective of the service user,” Ms. McGuinness stated.
She said Midlands Simon’s approach in this regard is a model that deserves support.
“Meeting the bricks and mortar needs of individuals and families without meeting all other needs will not work”, the MEP reiterated.
She praised the staff of Midlands Simon, the volunteer board chaired by Mark Cooney, and the women who attended the Nollaig Na mBan fundraising lunch which took place in the surrounds of Glasson Golf and Country Club.