Affordable housing is a fundamental step in ending homelessness. But housing on its own is not enough.

Many people, especially those who are long-term homeless, have suffered deep social exclusion and often wish for help in addressing a variety of needs, including problem alcohol and drug use.

Our addiction services form part of our specialist services that aim to foster inclusion in mainstream society.

Our current addiction services include:

Addiction wants you alone and dead. And it’s the same mentality regardless of what you’re addicted to, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, food, whatever. That’s how my addiction was. I’d use alone and have suicidal thoughts. Now I’m in college and the world is my oyster.” - Conor.


The emphasis at Gateway - our fifth high-support house, is addiction stabilisation.

Most of the residents at Gateway were previously in emergency accommodation. They have expressed an interest in addressing their problem alcohol and / or drug use, in many cases interested in entering a treatment programme.

Gateway offers people an opportunity to stabilise their addictions through a tailored programme that is recovery focused. Recovery is a personal journey during which each person reclaims a belief and trust in themselves, recovers their voice, and rediscovers a belief and hope in their ability to live a meaningful contributing life, despite the continued presence of many challenges, including addiction.

Gateway offers a tailored recovery-orientated programme for each resident. One-to-one keyworking, addiction and general counselling, ongoing support from Gateway staff and participation in SMART group sessions all play their part in the programme.

The SMART programme - Self Management and Recovery Training, helps people to build and maintain motivation, cope with urges, manage thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and live a more balanced life.

While restrictions and additional safety measures associated with Covid-19 have impacted every aspect of our work, they haven't stopped any aspect of the recovery programme at Gateway - many one-to-one counselling and keyworking sessions, and SMART group meetings are now taking place online.

Residents at Gateway often link-in with our other addiction services - Youth Homeless Drug Prevention and Addiction Treatment & Aftercare, as well as a host of external supports.

The aim at Gateway is for residents to progress to an appropriate residential alcohol / drug treatment programme or to be housed with support from our Housing First team.


Image of two people hugging at Cork Simons emergency shelter.Our addiction treatment and aftercare service offers support to people before they enter a residential addiction treatment programme, maintains contact with them while they complete the programme, and, post-treatment, helps secure appropriate housing and other supports that meet people's recovery needs, preventing a return to homelessness. It can be a long journey.

First contact is usually at our emergency shelter or day service, although referrals sometimes come from other homeless services in Cork. It's an opportunity to assess people's needs and gauge the extent to which they want to address their problem alcohol and / or drug use.

People expressing a wish to tackle their addictions are supported into appropriate services - be it a detox programme, our addiction stabilisation programme at Gateway or a residential addiction treatment programme. We maintain contact with each person, follow their progress and start preparing an aftercare plan for when they successfully complete their treatment programme.

Once the relevant treatment programme is completed, the aftercare plan kicks-in. This includes support around sourcing and securing relevant housing that meets people's recovery needs. This could be high-support housing, our own housing stock or public or private-rented housing. Housing First is also an option. If no suitable housing can be secured in time, we have two aftercare houses - one each for men and women, offering some breathing space for people leaving addiction treatment programmes. It prevents people from returning to emergency accommodation or rough sleeping. Aftercare links-in each person with other services appropriate to their needs, such as health, education, training and employment, and many more.

Restrictions and health measures associated with Covid-19 have had some impact on the addiction treatment & aftercare programme. Meeting people one-to-one in our emergency shelter and day service has had to be scaled-back, which means far fewer opportunistic meetings with people. But alternatives such as phone support and online meetings are ongoing, and there's a greater emphasis on supporting people to attend pre-arranged meetings. The closer working relationships between Cork Simon and the statutory agencies as a result of Covid-19 have helped to reduce much of the red-tape that is required to access some services.


Our Youth Homeless Drug Prevention programme offers support for 16-24 year olds who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

All our accommodation-based services are geared towards adults aged 18 years and over. As such, we can offer emergency accommodation or housing to the young men and women in the 18-24 year old age group. We refer those under 18 years of age in need of emergency accommodation or housing to statutory agencies.

Our Youth Homeless Drug Prevention programme offers support and referrals to education, training and employment, physical and mental health, addiction, accommodation, recreational activities, harm reduction, family relationships and any other support needs the young person identifies. The programme works closely with other service providers throughout Cork, making regular referrals to accommodation providers, addiction treatment centres, counselling, training providers and HSE Adult Homeless Integrated Team. Support is offered on a one-to-one basis, detached key-working, and street work.

Supported by the Cork Education and Training Board (formerly Cork VEC) and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, our Youth Homeless Drug Prevention Programme supports young people one-to-one, through detached keyworking (meeting one-to-one with young people staying in emergency or other temporary accommodation) and street work where necessary.

While restrictions and additional safety measures associated with Covid-19 have impacted the way some of the Youth Homeless Drug Prevention work is delivered, the work continues using online tools and more intensive telephone support where appropriate.