Peter McVerry Trust welcomes the publication of the New Homeless Census and notes that although the figures are not surprising to those that are involved in responding to homelessness, we are obviously concerned by the number of people involved, all of which have their individual story to tell. However we are particularly concerned by the number of children captured in the census.
Those that are homeless represent some of the most excluded in our society. The experience of homelessness is tough and impacts greatly on the individual. Above all children should be protected from such an experience.
What was also very alarming from the figures is that 184 young people aged between 15-19 were included in the Homeless census. The reality here is that given such an exposure at an early age to homelessness, there is every likelihood that they will transfer into adult homelessness and by the age of 30 yrs could in fact have spent half their life in homelessness.
Great efforts have been made in the last few years to co-ordinate better responses to Adult homelessness, both at a Statutory and Voluntary level and although we are not there yet, we have come some way by adopting the Housing First Model. An integrated plan now needs to be put in place to reduce the numbers of children exposed to homelessness and prevent their inevitable transfer into adult homelessness.
Early interventions are the key to reducing homelessness and all budgets that aim to safeguard children such as Education, Community Family Affairs, Childcare, Primary care, Social Inclusion, Mental Health etc that directly or indirectly affect the lives of vulnerable children need to be closely monitored and protected. We need to make sure particularly that the difficult political climate at present , that which we have witnessed of late does not produce a decade, where almost 500 children a year end up in homeless services and inevitably become the nameless, faceless homeless adults we see around the streets of our major cities.
Peter McVerry Trust would encourage Government to make every effort to protect the most excluded particularly vulnerable children when managing a very difficult programme of government in very challenging economic times.
Peter McVerry Trust will do everything it can along with our partners in the Statutory and Voluntary agencies to ensure that we target the most vulnerable with ever increasing scarcer resources to help build a more inclusive society particularly for our children.
Pat Doyle, CEO