Mary McAleese and Jean Quinn
President Mary McAleese hosted Sophia at Áras an Uachtaráin on September 23rd, to mark ten years of providing services to people out of home.The event was attended by board members, staff and residents of Sophia from around Ireland.
Thanking the President for marking the special occasion, Jean Quinn D.W., founder and joint CEO of Sophia, commented:
Since its formation Sophia has worked with 240 families and single people. In 2009, we currently care for 129 families and 66 single people and plans are well underway to extend services in 2010 to other locations in Dublin City, Sligo and Westmeath. Sophia has achieved much in our first ten years, with the help of our donors and supporters, and we are ambitious to further extend our services in the coming years. What keeps us going is our commitment to people with special needs.We are convinced that Sophia has a solution to addressing homelessness, and we know from real and personal experience, that it works
Homelessness in Ireland has changed significantly in the ten years of Sophia’s existence. The period has been defined by a number of notable changes including the introduction of an integrated state response by the creation of a Cross Department Team on Homelessness under the auspices of the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion.This was in recognition of the fact that homelessness needed a multi-faceted approach, requiring accommodation, health, welfare, education and preventative measures in order to be effectively addressed. This response, coinciding with the establishment of Sophia came in the form of Homelessness: An Integrated Strategy published in 2000.This represented the first formal attempt to address homelessness in a coordinated way in Ireland.
Since then the levels of interventions into addressing and preventing homelessness have been significant, which is conveyed by the most recent assessment on homelessness Counted In, 2008 from the Homeless Agency.
During the week of the survey in March 2008, “Counted In” found that there has been an increase of 4% in the number of households accessing homeless services in Dublin, with 2,144 households experiencing homelessness in 2008 compared with 2,066 households in 2005. However, it is important to note that Dublin’s population has increased by 5% since 2005, so the homeless population in 2008 represents an effective decrease of 1% relative to population growth in Dublin.
In 2008, a total of 110 adults have reported that they are sleeping rough compared with 2005, when 185 adults reported sleeping rough, representing a decrease of 41%. Sophia is committed to securing resources to continue its work over the coming decades and to working in partnership with other services who are addressing the needs of people experiencing homelessness in Ireland to meet the objectives of:
1. Preventing homelessness
2. Eliminating the need for people to sleep rough
3. Eliminating long term homelessness
4. Meeting long term housing needs
5. Ensuring effective services for homeless people
5. Better co-ordinating funding arrangements