An innovative work of Midlands Simon Community which aims at supporting people to move from the insecurity of homelessness to the safety of having a home of one’s own has been commended in the debate on homelessness held in the European Parliament.
Midlands Simon Community have pioneered a ‘Housing First’ model which has moved away from the traditional manner of solely placing people in larger hostels and offering only a bed for the night, while alternatively supporting people to have a home for life.
Midlands Simon Community in partnership with Athlone Institute Technology organised the inaugural Housing First conference in Ireland in 2013 and have pioneered supporting to be able to leave homeless and have a home of their own.
Mark Cooney, Voluntary Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Midlands Simon Community, acknowledged the achievement of European Parliament recognition for all those involved with the homeless charity.
“For our volunteers and front line staff it is great to have our work recognised. At any one time Midlands Simon Community is supporting over 150 people across the Midlands region and thankfully, because we are deeply rooted in the local community we are able to create solution by helping people to move out of homelessness.
“In Athlone and Longford we have created twenty homes for people through a housing with support model and because of the fact that we have the trust of the local community in that they see us as a local response to homeless that we have been able to find homes for people that need them most,” Mark remarked.
Midlands Simon Community receives support from the local authorities in the Midlands the HSE and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. However, as Mark pointed out, “the local financial support we receive through local donations has meant we have been to create homes for those who otherwise would have to spend a long period of their lives homeless”.
Midlands Simon Community also provide other services with a Sli Nua project in Athlone which now has provided permanent homes for ten people, having purchased three new homes in 2019.
A regional support service for homelessness is also available which has helped support over thirty people move out of homelessness for good in Westmeath in 2019 as well as a new out of hours service which responds to the needs of people who are sleeping rough or are in need of advice and support outside of daytime working hours by providing them with practical supports, (sleeping bags or food ) information and advice.