Funding fears for refuge and hostel

Teresa Gilchriest, Manager of Bethany House. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
It’s a worrying time for staff and service userss in Bethany House and St Martha’s Hostel, as they strive to keep the services going, despite facing an uncertain future.

It’s a worrying time for staff and service userss in Bethany House and St Martha’s Hostel, as they strive to keep the services going, despite facing an uncertain future.

It was recently revealed that €60,000 is required to retain the services for 2015; €40,000 from the Department of the Environment and €20,000 from the HSE. Without this funding, the St Vincent de Paul-run facilities face closure within the year.

“It’s tough on everybody and it’s uncertain for the clients as well,” said Teresa Gilchriest, Manager of Bethany House.

Providing services for the homeless throughout the midland region, it’s impossible to put a number on the amount of people who are supported by both Bethany House and St Martha’s.

As things stand, there are 16 currently staying in Bethany House; ten children and six women. Meanwhile, in St Martha’s, there are eleven short-term clients and one long-term.

These clients are afforded the best care and support possible, with services available for those with mental health difficulties, clients recovering from addiction and victims of domestic violence. They also link up with other services to help their clients get back on their feet. Both services offer follow-up care, support and services to those who have left the facilities.

“It’s worrying, of course it is for staff, but we’re more worried about the clients and vulnerable people,” Teresa said.

Both services have already made sacrifices and cutbacks to try and combat the situation. Pay cuts and extra hours were among the changes made, with full-time staff taking on two 24-hour shifts every week.

“We can’t do any more than we’re doing,” Teresa stated.

Manager of St Martha’s Hostel, Joe Finnegan praised the staff’s dedication, but stated that the situation was “worrying and it’s disappointing”.

“If we don’t get that money back we will, I’d say, close within the next six months.”

There is no telling what the future holds for the services. Submissions have been made to both the Department of the Environment and the HSE to secure the much-needed funds.

Should the facilties close, it would have a knock-on effect on those who use the services and those who continue to rely on the supports available. “It’s not just about a bed for the night, there’s a lot more to it than that,” Teresa added.