Causeway focuses on Homelessness Awareness Week

Homelessness Awareness Week was marked by the Causeway Local Homeless Action Group at Vineyard Compassion Hope Centre this year.

Across Northern Ireland, a week of events were held on the theme #HaveTheConvo and over 60 people attended the event in Coleraine.

A range of groups were represented, including the Housing Executive, Triangle Floating Support, Northern Health and Social Services Trust, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and Women’s Aid.

Hosts Vineyard Compassion was also joined by the Western Health and Social Services Trust, Homeless Connect, First Housing Floating Support, Simon Community, Housing Rights and the PSNI.

Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, Cllr Ivor Wallace, provided the opening address at the event.

A welcome was also provided by Mark Alexander, the Housing Executive’s Causeway Area Manager, who updated delegates on the organisation’s current strategy, Ending Homelessness Together.

He outlined some of the main issues affecting the Causeway area.

After the event, Alexander said: “Prevention and early intervention in relation to homelessness through multi-agency work is continuing, despite the effects of the pandemic and the economy hampering efforts to secure more accommodation for those in greatest need.

“This is only the second time since 2019 that we’ve been able to host discussions like this in person and it was great to interact and reconnect with the partner agencies involved on a face-to-face basis.”

Shannon Gordon from NI Youth Forum revealed her personal journey, outlining what it is like to be young and homeless.

Stories from other young homeless people were presented by Shannon via a video presentation.

Sharon Graham, Northern Health and Social Care Trust, outlined an exciting new development relating to the care and health of people who become homeless.

She revealed that each Health Trust across Northern Ireland now has a new dedicated homeless health nurse, recruited to ensure the forward health planning of those experiencing homelessness.

Powerful testimony was also provided by people who had experienced homelessness but had now found permanent homes, with the help of the Housing Executive and partner agencies.

Four people of various ages shared personal stories, giving an insight into how practices could be improved and enhanced to combat local homelessness.

It was evident from the active discussions that collaborative working was having an impact, with a clear willingness for all partner agencies to continue working together.

Ricky Wright of Vineyard Compassion said: “It was a pleasure to host this networking event at Vineyard Compassion and to reflect on how we can work together to support those experiencing homelessness.

“Discussing issues around homelessness is crucial in the campaign to respond effectively and bring about eventual change.”

For more information visit the Housing Executive’s website www.nihe.gov.uk