MORE people than ever before sought help from Cork Simon Community's Homeless Emergency Support Services for shelter, care and support last year, the charity's annual report has revealed.
Equally, an unprecedented number of people also moved to secure affordable, supported or independent housing in 2019 with help from the charity's Housing and Support Service.
Last year, almost 1,100 people were supported across all Cork Simon services, 19% of which were women.
To mark the publication today of Cork Simon’s Annual Impact Report 2019, the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform, Michael McGrath TD will join Cork Simon Community's Director, Dermot Kavanagh at its SS Joachim & Anne’s renovation site on Anglesea Street.
Work at the site commenced in 2019 to sensitively convert the listed building into eight independent living flats for people experiencing homelessness.
Construction work is due to be completed early in the New Year.
The completion of the SS Joachim & Anne’s flats, the charity says, will extend further Cork Simon’s ability to provide affordable housing to people working to leave homelessness behind.
In 2019, the Community helped 52 people, effectively one person per week, into secure and affordable independent and supported housing – 21% more than in 2018.
All of these individuals continue to be supported to rebuild their lives.
"Home is where people are safest and home is where people thrive.
"Our experience of the pandemic this year has emphasised our need as a society to move to a situation where we provide care to people in their own homes wherever possible rather than in emergency shelters or institutional homes," Mr Kavanagh commented.
"That requires the government to take all measures necessary to ensure a sufficient supply of affordable homes.
"As our renovation of SS Joachim & Anne’s demonstrates, we will work constructively and engage progressively with the government to end homelessness," he continued.
In 2019 Cork Simon also supported 228 people back into education, training and employment; 68 people were supported into addiction treatment and aftercare services, and 11,467 hot meals were served to 674 men and women who used Cork Simon’s Soup Run in 2019.
"By the end of the year we felt that we’d made a lot of progress”, Mr Kavanagh said of 2019.
"We knew we had a lot more work to do but we had no idea what was going to hit us this year.
"As the pandemic took hold, we worked at fevered speed at all our services to put new infection control measures in place; make sure physical distancing and hygiene guidelines were being observed; secure the PPE our volunteers and staff needed to do their jobs, and completely re-orientate how we run our services.
"The impact of our rapid response was that only a handful of people we’re supporting contracted the infection and all recovered well," he continued.
He also paid tribute to Cork City Council and the HSE in Cork for their response to the Covid-19 crisis.
"City Council moved rapidly to make additional emergency accommodation available and HSE put rapid testing and off-site isolation facilities in place," he said.