United front against homelessness

A NEWLY formed Regional Homelessness Group for the Causeway area has met to highlight the support that is available across the statutory and voluntary sector.

Part of Homelessness Awareness Week 2018, organisations represented on the new group, which met in December, include Council for the Homeless NI, First Housing, the Housing Executive, Northern Trust, Simon Community NI, Triangle Housing, Vineyard Compassion, Western Trust and Women’s Aid.

Meeting at Vineyard Compassion in Coleraine, the group received an update on progress to achieve actions in the Housing Executive’s Ending Homelessness Together Strategy, which runs from 2017-2022.

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens District Council, Brenda Chivers, also attended the event which saw a number of addresses from the provider sector.

Presentations were delivered on behalf of the Housing Executive, Causeway Coast and Glens Environmental Health Department, Triangle Floating Support, First Housing, Women’s Aid, Vineyard Compassion, Housing Rights and the Simon Community.

The strategy has a renewed focus on the prevention of homelessness and tackling its root causes as well as effectively responding to homelessness.

The event also saw the launch of a Local Service Directory which agencies and households can use to identify and access a wide range of services.

Housing Executive Causeway Area Manager, Mark Alexander, said: “It is important that our efforts to reduce homelessness are part of a bigger picture, which includes tackling the causes of social and economic exclusion and improving access to health and social care services.

“To achieve this in the current economic climate requires greater emphasis on prevention and early intervention through multiagency work, including sharing resources and continuously looking for creative and innovative solutions.

“In conjunction with the Homeless Strategy, an inter-departmental action plan has been created which addresses non-accommodation based issues and is led by a wide range of key statutory partners.

“Preventing homelessness is a top priority for the Housing Executive - the impact of losing the most basic need of a home is devastating on the future well-being of the individuals affected.”

Ricky Wright of Vineyard Compassion, said: “It is extremely important that all sectors work together to alleviate homelessness.

“Events like these raise awareness of the complexity of homelessness and the wide range of agencies that must come together to support households to find sustainable housing and support solutions.

“Homeless Awareness Week is an important opportunity to acknowledge the contributions and commitment of those working in the sector and reflect on how we can work together to support those experiencing homelessness,” he added.

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