Over 150 people in Cork city and county were supported by Sophia, a national homeless charity, in 2021 revealed their CEO and Cork native Tony O’Riordan.
This figure represented an increase of 12% in the number of people supported across the city and county compared to 2020 said the CEO of Sophia.
“Sophia has been working in Cork for over 20 years. In 2021 we supported 151 people in Cork city and county. This was made possible by the support of Cork City Council, Cork County Council and the HSE. In Cork, Sophia supported people to attain a 98% housing stability rate in 2021, which means 98% remained out of homelessness and didn’t relapse. This is above the national average,” he said.
The charity works with people who have complex support needs. Of the adults supported by Sophia nationwide in 2021, 28% had an addiction and 34% had a mental health support need.
In Cork, the charity found that more people had an addiction said the CEO.
"We have had a very high level of success in terms of people remaining out of homelessness in Cork city and county. When people got the home and support in Cork city and county, we had a 98% housing stability rate.
"People think of homelessness as confined to the city, but we are working in Cork County as well. We wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of Cork County Council.”
In 2021 Sophia supported 1145 people nationally, this figure included 241 families and 576 children. In just five years Sophia has increased the number of people it supports by 125%.
Tony who hails from Aherla said that providing the necessary supports are key to ending the homeless crisis.
“Providing a home for many people is not enough. It is the first part of the solution. Support is needed as well. People who have experienced homelessness have been impacted by traumas that require a response that not just recognises those traumas but also provides interventions to ensure that they do not continue to negatively affect that person and result in a cycle of homelessness. Major investment is needed in supported homes to end that cycle and the homeless crisis.
“It is important that the eye isn’t taken off the ball in terms of supporting people that have an addiction or a mental health need,” said Mr O’Riordan. “In our experience providing homes is essential but supporting people takes people out of homelessness. It is only right that housing is front and centre, but our stats show that the support is vital if people are to progress out of homelessness and don’t relapse back into homelessness.
Mr O’Riordan said there is now a ‘major’ push from the various stakeholders to solve the homeless issue.
“There seems to be a major push from the local authorities, the Department of Housing and approved housing bodies like us all working together. There is a different energy there. We need to deliver more houses, but we also need to make sure there is an investment into supporting people who need it. If people have a long experience of homelessness or had traumatic experiences, they are not going to vanish by giving them the keys to a new home, they need support for as long as possible.”