NIFHA has joined Depaul in celebrating its 10-year anniversary of serving homeless people in Northern Ireland.
The homeless charity was recognised at a reception held in Stormont, hosted by Fearghal McKinney South Belfast MLA. NIFHA’s Chief Executive Cameron Watt attended the event, which marked the many achievements of Depaul over the last 10 years. Depaul also launched their “10 Years of Depaul in Northern Ireland” report at the event, which highlights the positive impact of work that has been taking place across the Province.
Housing associations in Northern Ireland are vital to the work of Depaul, providing accommodation for the many people that the organisation serves.
In 2005, the Stella Maris project was opened in conjunction with Helm Housing Association, the first service of its kind in Northern Ireland, a specialised accommodation service for vulnerable men, women and couples who are homeless and have entrenched alcohol use issues.
Newington Housing Association has been integral to the Mater Dei project, located off the Antrim Road, offering temporary accommodation in independent flats to homeless families. The project opened as a response to the displacement of families due to a number of factors, including relationship breakdown, inappropriate living arrangements, overcrowding and paramilitary intimidation. Working in partnership with Depaul, associations are making a positive impact to the lives of homeless people in Northern Ireland.
Depaul now operates 10 services across Belfast, Dungannon, L/Derry, Newry and Mourne; including residential services for single people, couples and vulnerable families, a Day Centre, Floating Support services and Housing First services.
Speaking at the event, Kerry Anthony MBE, CEO of Depaul, commented: “The story of Depaul in Northern Ireland began in 2005 when the need for a service to support people with complex needs was identified. Since then, the journey we have been on is one that has come from 10 years of adapting to those ever-changing needs. Having started as a small organisation in 2002 with one service in Dublin, Depaul has grown to be a large cross-border organisation, and in 2015 we have supported over 14,000 people both in North Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”
She added: “Depaul responds to need, and remains completely committed to helping homeless people who need our support the most. We have learned a lot in 10 years in Northern Ireland and will continue to do so from the people we are here to serve, as well as our partners. It’s in commemoration that we look back on the last 10 years in Northern Ireland and celebrate the service users, staff, volunteers, supporters and partners who are the story of Depaul.”
Minister for Social Development Mervyn Storey MLA, said: “Over the past 10 years some exceptional work has been done by Depaul with several ground-breaking schemes established to help those who have suffered homelessness and marginalisation. I’m proud that over those 10 years my Department has been able to provide over £15million to Depaul through the Supporting People programme to help the charity grow and allow its dedicated staff and volunteers to continue to provide such fundamental support to these vulnerable groups.”
Mr Fearghal McKinney South Belfast MLA commented: “We must congratulate Depaul for the great work that they do in relation to a growing homelessness problem. Working, as it does, on both sides of the border, it has built an enormous expertise in this area and that has been proven in the thousands it has helped and continues to help. We, as a Government, need to match that commitment and success and can do so through Government Departments working together in a strategic way.”
To read the full report, click here