Seminar seeks to tackle homelessness

By Maurice Garvey

A SEMINAR this week saw a multi-agency approach to address the growing issue of homeless families in Clondalkin.

A number of organisations were invited by Community Action on Suicide to the event on Wednesday morning, at Rowlagh Church.

Homeless Clondalkin 

Key aims were to update local groups on the evolving situation, maximise existing expertise and examine how Clondalkin can work to improve outcomes for local families at risk of homelessness.

Amongst the speakers at the seminar, were Crosscare, Focus HAT, Hail Housing Association and Fr Peter McVerry.

Fidelma Beirne, Crosscare Teen Counselling, said the event was important for groups to network and understand what services are available in the area, to support homeless families in Clondalkin.

She said: “This initiative is about responding to families who are living elsewhere, but are from here, and families who have been placed here, but are not from here.

“Crosscare’s role is as secondary providers, we take crisis calls, get families in and figure out a solution.”

Ms Beirne said there has been a dramatic increase in anxiety and depression for young people in homeless families.

She also cited challenges in accessing families staying at hotels, the need for supports in the parent/child relationship.

She also expressed a desire that dream initiatives such as free Leap cards and free text services for homeless teenagers, could become a reality.

Fr McVerry said normal responses are “not working” and fears a “flood of homelessness coming down the road” unless there is a “radical response.”

“It wasn’t a priority of the last government, I urge people to lobby politicians to put this at the top of the agenda,” said Fr McVerry.

“We need legislation to prevent banks evicting families until they have found a new home. Communities need to identify vacant homes in their area, and name and shame the owners if necessary.

“The stigma of homelessness needs to change through education. Nothing will change until that is tackled.”

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