Galway Simon reveals worrying increase in demand for services

Galway daily news galway simon community reports rise in demand
Karen Feeney, Galway Simon Community, Karen Golden, CEO Galway Simon Community and Joe O'Brien TD, Minister of State for Community Development and Charities. Photo: Murt Fahy

Galway Simon Community supported more people last year than ever before, with a 26% in the number of households supported compared to 2020.

The charity’s 2021 Annual Impact Report shows that it supported 814 unique households, this included 246 families, with 563 children.

Galway Simon’s CEO Karen Golden revealed the increased demand on services, as well as the charity’s focus on providing solutions to those facing homelessness in the local community.

She welcomed the 364 new social homes delivered across Galway, Mayo and Roscommon in 2021, but said that demand continues to far outstrip supply with 4,052 households on the social housing waiting lists.

She also highlighted that rents continue to increase, and as more landlords are exiting the rental market, there are fewer properties available to rent.

In total, the charity supported 1,511 people across its homelessness prevention and housing services last year.

“Our teams are more stretched than ever before, but we continue to do all that we can to support people for as long as they need us,” said Karen.

“In 2021, we provided supports to rough sleepers and 4,745 emergency bed nights. We established new Housing First tenancies in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. We extended the residential places in our Youth Service from 8 to 12, and acquired our first properties to provide tenancies for care leavers.

“Over 90% of those who accessed our City Prevention Service did not enter Emergency Accommodation. 37,084 meals were provided across our Services.”

Karen acknowledged the incredible support that was provided by the charity’s funders, donors and supporters in 2021.

She also thanked the volunteers who made such an extraordinary contribution to Galway Simon Community’s work over the last year and who are an integral part of the community.

Launching Galway Simon’s 2021 Annual Impact Report, Minister of State, Joe O’Brien, said that the increase in homelessness seen in recent months is a serious concern for Government.

He said that increasing social housing and residential housing supply is key to eradicating homelessness.

“At the moment State investment of over €4 billion a year in housing is aimed at increasing supply and the Housing For All plan is beginning to take root and deliver improvements,” said Minister O’Brien.

“We in the Green Party have recently reiterated our call for the Right to Housing to be enshrined in the Constitution.

“We believe this will be an important step in ensuring that the rights of those in need of housing are front and centre when it comes to policymaking both now and into the future.”

He said that organisations such as Galway Simon Community provide a crucial service to those in housing insecurity or homelessness.

Closing out the annual report launch, Karen said that there is deep concern among Galway Simon’s teams about the winter ahead.

She said that the cost of living crisis is having a disproportionate impact on the most marginalised.

Karen called on the government to prioritise measures in the budget to mitigate the risks of food and fuel poverty, and the risks of homelessness, this Winter.

She also called on government departments to ensure homeless services are adequately funded, and that vital services that are providing supports to those at the sharpest edge of the current crises are protected.

To download Galway Simon Community’s 2021 Annual Impact Report, visit their website