Midland homelessness charity at ‘breaking point’ as it launches annual report

The Midlands Simon Community is at “breaking point”, with a 42 per cent increase in demand for their services and 12 per cent cuts to their funding in 2014.

Midands Simon launched their annual report just before Christmas at the Westmeath County Council buildings in Mullingar, at which they revealed some of the challenges facing the organisation. The report highlights the progress being made to tackle homelessness in the Midlands despite the increase in demand and the reduction in funding.

CEO of Midlands Simon Community, Tony O’Riordan, said that cuts of 12.27 per cent to funding in 2014 and a further 3.5 per cent cut in funding to Emergency Accommodation Services had left the charity at breaking point.

“It has been a very tough year for Midlands Simon Community. We have seen restructuring of the organisation, cuts to State funding, and increased demands on all services and staff. This has not passed us completely unnerved, but our drive and determination to help those in need of our services has only grown.

“Midlands Simon Community is the last safety net for many and we will support them in whatever way they need for as long as they need us; our door is always open.”

Midlands Simon Community saw an increase of 42 per cent in Westmeath presenting to their homeless services in 2014. Until the end of November, the homelessness charity had worked with 217 people who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in Westmeath.

The launch of the annual report took place in conjunction with the Midlands Regional Joint Homeless Consultative Forum. The Midlands is the only region in the country where there is an inter-agency homelessness action team meeting regularly to co-ordinate a response. Westmeath County Council housing officer Roibeard O’Ceallaigh and HSE community services manager Joe Whelan both spoke about the great commitment and communal effort in tackling homelessness in the Midlands counties.

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