When one thinks of a homeless person an image is conjured of cardboard boxes, bottles wrapped in brown paper bags, and a dishevelled appearance. According to the Midland Simon Community, for many this image is not true to life – particularly when dealing with the homeless person in rural Ireland.
“In large urban areas you can see homeless straight away – it is there on the streets. It isn’t as visible in the midlands,” said Cormac Lally, Development Officer with the Midland Simon Community.
Mr Lally, and his colleague Aoife Maguire (Longford Settlement Worker for the Midland Simon Community), were speaking to the Leader in advance of an information evening for Longford Friends of Simon.
The aim of the Midlands Simon Community is to enable people to move out of homelessness by providing a wide range of services and supports, e.g. providing vital emergency accommodation, settlement services, housing with support and addressing any difficulties people face with health, or addiction or poverty, providing a voice, a network of volunteers who provide many supports, such as help with returning to education or employment, or someone to simply listen.
The issues, according to the organisation, that affect people across the midlands are also present in Longford and these are the issues that lead to homelessness in the county.
“You are talking about people who are living in a cycle of disadvantage,” said Ms Maguire. “These people may have long-term mental health issues, addiction concerns and / or relationship breakdowns. Other areas of concern could be domestic violence, finances and unemployment.”
Support is a key requisite to coming through adverse times, and some people simply don’t have the family or community support that they may need.
“The ones who need our help are those that don’t have people they can call on for help. They have nowhere else to go,” said Mr Lally.
This year the Midlands Simon Community needs to raise €500,000 to keep their services going and Mr Lally is quick to point out that the organisation is completely dependent upon its volunteers.
“We simply could not operate if we had no volunteers. Our philosophy has been to do more with less. We’ve been able to show we can do that but it’s difficult for everybody at the moment,” he said.
The information evening for the Midland Simon Community and for Longford Friends of Simon will take place in the Longford Arms Hotel on Thursday April 12 next at 7pm. All are welcome to attend.