“There are lots of reasons why someone ends up homeless. I did not want to be on the streets, but things that happened to me in my life led me to that situation. People end up on the streets for so many reasons, it could happen to anyone.”
“Alcohol only really became a problem over the last year. My fiancé died last year. He was great guy and I thought everything was working out. He was not a drinker. We were together for four years. We were going for a house together. Me and my fiancé, the father of my child going for a house together. Things were good. Then he over-dosed on heroin. He was just messing around on it. I never knew he ever took it. It was like being hit by a train.”
“I’ve been three weeks in Cork Simon Community. I’ve stopped drinking. They’ve helped me go to AA meetings. Simon have been a huge help and they’ve done the best they could. The biggest help has been my key worker. She is wonderful and has helped me with everything; filling in forms, preparing housing applications, typing letters…everything. Another huge help has been the activities everyday. Getting you to do things is good.”
“I’ve been a psychiatric patient for 15 years. I had a nervous breakdown in my twenties. I was kept in a psychiatric hospital for two years without getting out. I got ten electro-shock treatments to my brain to bring me back. All over a man. My husband did that to me. He put me through hell and back. I’d a hard old life. I’ve been through the wars and back. I’m after doing so many things to my body I dunno how I’m here – but I’m here.”
In 2015 over 1,200 people turned to Cork Simon Community for help. Men and Women, young and not so young, people with a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. Anyone can become homeless. In 2015 some 14% of people we supported were women. 13% were 18-26 year olds. 41% of our Emergency Shelter residents were homeless for the first time.
People become homeless for a variety of different reasons. For many, homelessness is the result of a brief crisis in their lives. For some people homelessness occurs because of a culmination of multiple crises over a long period, many of which can be outside their control. They build up over time – sometimes years, until that final crisis moment that triggers homelessness.
Homelessness makes you sick. Being sick can make you homeless. Rough sleeping, surviving in squats or living in poor or overcroweded housing can impact negatively on a person’s health. People who are homeless tend to have higher morbidity from physical conditions that are common, as well as conditions that are rarely found, in the general population.
Each year we publish our Annual Report documenting the challenges, successes and audited financial accounts for the year. Up to 2012 we published our Annual Reports in printed form. As part of our ongoing cost-cutting programme, we published our 2013 Annual Report in digital form only – an interactive, multi-media online report that proved to be very effective and reached a wider audience. We continue to publish our Annual Reports digitally.
We published two companion reports in 2013 and 2014. The first report – ‘How Did I Get Here?’, explores the pathways into homelessness of people staying in our emergency shelter; ‘Where Are They Now?’ reviews the housing status 12 months later of that same group of people, identifying the supports that helped those who moved out of homelessness and the barriers that prevented those still stuck in emergency accommodation from moving on.
Research plays an important role in shaping all of our responses to homelessness. The Simon Communities of Ireland is a network of communities through the country sharing their knowledge and experiences through a variety of research papers. Collectively we have commissioned and published research on housing-led services, women and homelessness, rural homelessness in Ireland, and the needs of people who are homeless as they age.