Midlands Simon Community reaches milestone in Laois
“Midlands Simon Community marks 10 years of supporting people affected by homelessness in Laois”.
This winter sees the Midlands Simon Community passing an important milestone in that the organisation will be 10 years supporting people who were at risk of or experiencing homelessness in Co Laois. Over that time the Midlands Simon Community has supported hundreds of people comprising of individuals, couples and families to move from the instability of homelessness to the security of their own home.
Range of Services in Laois:
Under the support and direction of Laois County Council, the Midlands Simon Community has built up the followings services.
Regional Support Service (Homelessness)
This was the first services offered by the Midlands Simon Community in Laois. Referrals to this service are made through Laois County Council and the service supports individuals, couples and families that are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. The services have capacity at one time to work with 27 cases in the county and this on average could represent over 40 people.
Community Liaison Nurse for Homelessness
Many people who are experiencing homelessness also have significant health support needs and being homeless has made these issues more severe. To this end the HSE has supported the Midlands Simon Community to have a dedicated Community Liaison Nurse for Homelessness covering the Laois/Offaly area. In 2014, the CLN supported 55 people in the county and their role ensures that the often neglected health needs of people experiencing homelessness can be addressed.
Emergency Accommodation Service
While the Midlands Simon Community`s Emergency Accommodation Service is based in Tullamore, it has provided a bed for the night and an emergency response for people from Laois. People from Laois who used this service were able to return to their own county to secure a home of their own.
The Midlands Simon Community is a volunteer led and a community owned organisation. Volunteers are present in each section of the organisation. They provide leadership and governance on the Board of Directors through to volunteering in the Shops, Services and Fundraising for the Midlands Simon Community. One of the founders of the Midlands Simon Community is Cormac Lally from Abbeyleix. Cormac was the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for 10 years and is a key member of the Friends of Simon in Laois.
Central to the organisations development is the Laois Friends of Simon. Their tireless and consistent dedication has ensured that the Midlands Simon Community has been able to raise the necessary funds to maintain services in Laois. The CEO of the Midlands Simon Community, Tony O’ Riordan, has consistently hailed the importance of this group by stating that “without the support of the Laois Friends of Simon, the Midlands Simon Community couldn’t have reached out to people on the margins of society and continued to offer the support that we have over the last 10 years”.
Michael Martin, Chairperson of Laois Friends of Simon outlined that “we have very committed groups of volunteers and they in turn reach out to individuals and groups throughout the county of Laois. This year the Laois Friends of Simon will have raised €50,000 to support the work of Midlands Simon in Laois.” Reflecting on the year Mr Martin stated that “there is something about the issue of homelessness that disturbs people at a deeply human level. We feel it is unacceptable in our society and because of that people generously support organisations like the Laois Friends of Simon. This year our church gate collection raised over €14,000 which is a phenomenal and encouraging response”.
Working together to end Homelessness in Laois
The Midlands Simon Community is not on its own in its work to end homelessness in Laois. It works with the support and under the direction of Laois County Council and the HSE. Mr O’ Riordan stated that “there is no way that Midlands Simon Community could have developed a level of service without the support of Laois County Council and the HSE. Within Laois County Council, their staff and elected officials have always been supportive and receptive of proposals we have made.
Laois County Council is one of the few counties that has an effective Homeless Action Team and this wouldn’t be possible without the professionalism, dedication and commitment of the staff of Laois County Council”. Mr O’ Riordan went on to outline that “the midlands region only receives 1.5% of the governments national spend on homelessness and County Laois only receives a small proportion of this 1.5%. In light of that the county has made maximum use of the resources available, however there is still a demand out there and we would hope that over the next 3-5 years the Midlands Simon Community can make real progress in the development of services in Laois”
Lending your support to the work of the Midlands Simon Community in Laois
If you would like to support Laois Friends of Simon, especially in the run up to Christmas, please ring Michael Martin, Chairperson of Laois Friends of Simon on 086 1223421 or Cormac Lally, Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Midlands Simon Community on 086 2416322 or send a donation to Laois Friends of Simon, C/O Midlands Simon Community, P.O Box 27, Athlone, Co Westmeath.
For further information contact Tony O’Riordan, C.E.O Midlands Simon Community @ 087-9967586