Homeless Connect has today (Thursday 21st October) outlined their strategic plan to play a leading role in addressing the increasing number of households and children facing homelessness.
The publication of the strategic plan coincides with the launch of a new name and website for the charity established in 1983 as Council for the Homeless NI, which outlines their vision and purpose for the next three years.
At an event in Belfast today, Homeless Connect outlined the stark reality of the homelessness crisis in Northern Ireland, with a 65% increase since January 2019 in the number of households currently in temporary accommodation.
According to figures collated by the Department for Communities there are now 3,402 households in temporary accommodation and a startling 3,596 children living in temporary accommodation.
There has also been a significant increase (71%) of the number of households on the waiting list for social housing, rising from 26,248 in 2002/03 to 44,985 in June 2021, exacerbated in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have been working to prevent and alleviate homelessness in Northern Ireland since 1983. Our work combines direct support to service users through our projects and our network of member organisations as well as proactive engagement to shape policy and legislation to prevent and alleviate homelessness.” said Liam Milligan, Chair, Homeless Connect.
“We have always believed that we can do more for individuals and families experiencing homelessness and the pandemic has only redoubled our focus. Over the course of 2020 and 2021, we supported more than 3000 people maintain their own tenancies through our Home Starter Packs. Our food redistribution volume increased by 112% with FareShare creating 1.9 million meals for people experiencing food poverty, including those experiencing homelessness. But there is more to be done.”
Homeless Connect supports a network of homelessness service providers who provide supported temporary accommodation, floating support in the community, street outreach, drop-in day centres and advice services. They also provide services directly to support those in need.
“We have taken the decision to rebrand as Homeless Connect to better reflect what we do and also because language matters. It is time to move away from speaking about ‘the homeless’, a phrase that suggests that homelessness defines the identity of those who experience it.
This is not the case. Being homeless should not be viewed as a core aspect of any person’s identity. We need to change the narrative. Homeless Connect acknowledges that no one organisation can prevent or alleviate homelessness. If we are to take the journey towards ending homelessness, we need to be connected. These connections are needed both between different organisations in the homelessness sector also between the sector and Government.”
Ms McCrudden continued “Today marks a pivotal turning point for us as an organisation. We are relentless in our focus on challenging policy, offering practical support and working to build a society where everyone has a right to have a safe place to call home.
Our strategic plan for 2021-24 will see us focus on becoming the leading independent voice on homelessness, through strategic engagement with government to ensure that policy and legislation fully addresses the challenges of homelessness.
We will increase our reach and engagement, to ensure that all our actions are driven by the needs of service users, involving people with lived experiences of homelessness in the development of policy and practice. Homeless Connect is the voice for the homeless and we will work with, and walk with, people on the journey to ending homeless.”
For further information visit www.homelessconnect.org
Notes to editors
‘Homeless Connect’ is the working name of ‘Council for the Homeless (Northern Ireland)’ registered charity in Northern Ireland 103325.
You can watch the video shown at the event launching the new name and brand here.