Up to two thirds of family households affected by homelessness are headed by women, the launch of the Galway Simon Community annual report was told this week.
The homelessness and housing charity’s 2019 report revealed that the organisation supported 646 local households last year, a total of 1,191 individuals, through their Homelessness Prevention and Housing Services. This was a 17 per cent increase in households supported compared to 2018 and was the largest number of people the charity has ever supported.
The launch also heard from President Michael D Higgins who sent his best wishes to all of those involved in Galway Simon Community ahead, and praised their walk of solidarity with those who need it.
“The challenges we currently face as a society have been particularly difficult for individuals and families who are homeless,” he said.
“Galway Simon Community has continued to walk in solidarity with those who are so vulnerable, extending your customary compassion and hand of friendship to your fellow citizens as we face the many demanding challenges of the contemporary moment.
“I thank you for that inspiring commitment and dedication, and for all you do to enable those experiencing homelessness to navigate their way safely towards a better and brighter future”, the President said.
Keynote speaker at the virtual launch, Dr Paula Mayock, Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work and Social Policy at Trinity College Dublin, spoke about the impact that homelessness has on women, families and young people in particular.
“Up to two thirds of family households affected by homelessness are headed by women with the majority having become homeless through the loss of private rented accommodation”, explained Dr Paula Mayock.
Galway Simon Community’s CEO Karen Golden revealed details of the charity’s 2019 Annual Report, highlighting the increased demand on services, as well as the charity’s focus on providing solutions to those facing homelessness in the local community.
“2019 saw another increase in demand for our homelessness prevention and housing services, with more people than ever turning to Galway Simon Community for help in the year we marked our 40thAnniversary.
“We supported 646 unique households, which included 184 families, an increase of 39% and 443 children, an increase of 52% compared to the previous year. 2020 is bringing even more challenges as we deal with Covid-19, another crisis on top of the homelessness and housing crisis, which has resulted in even further demand for our services”, Karen said.
Ms Golden acknowledged that significant measures have been taken by the Government and Local Authorities since the first Covid-19 lockdown began in March, and also highlighted that the slow pace of new social housing coming on stream is contributing to the numbers experiencing and at risk of homelessness.
“This in turn means that more and more people are turning to Galway Simon for support, putting additional pressure on the organisation’s services.
“It’s still very challenging to find pathways out of homelessness for those we support, due to the lack of affordable accommodation in our community, and this is why we have been focusing our efforts on preventing homelessness and providing more housing solutions,” she explained.
Closing out their annual report launch, Karen acknowledged the incredible support that was provided by the charity’s funders, donors and supporters in 2019. She also thanked all of the volunteers who made such an extraordinary contribution to Galway Simon Community’s work over the last year.
“We are deeply grateful to our supporters and volunteers, without whom our work simply would not be possible”, Karen said.
To download Galway Simon Community’s 2019 Annual Report, visit their website www.galwaysimon.ie