Bord Gáis Energy Partners With Dublin Simon Community

13 Jan 2020 | 08.24 am

Bord Gáis Energy Partners With Dublin Simon Community

‘The scale of the homelessness problem is definitely the biggest challenge’

13 Jan 2020 | 08.24 am

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In this series, Bord Gáis Energy is sharing details on some of its customers and their endeavours. This month, Gerard Russell, Corporate Services & Procurement Manager at Dublin Simon Community, explains the charity’s activities

How does The Simon Community assist homeless individuals and families in Ireland?

The Simon Community works to end and prevent homelessness in Ireland. We support individuals and families on a case-by-case basis, assessing their needs and responding with the relevant and necessary support services.

These support services include prevention, tenancy sustainment and resettlement to help people remain safely and securely in their homes, as well as street outreach, emergency accommodation and harm reduction methods tailored for people who are rough sleeping and have nowhere to go.

Our core services also include independent or supported housing appropriated to each individual or family’s level of need through our Housing First initiative. On a day-to-day basis our supports for homeless individuals and families also include food banks, drop-in centres and soup runs.

What’s the main challenge facing The Simon Community?

The scale of the homelessness problem is definitely the biggest challenge. There are now more than 10,500 people experiencing homelessness across Ireland, including 1,733 families and 3,826 children trapped in emergency accommodation. Last year we helped 16,776 people across our services nationwide.

How is the Dublin Simon responding to this challenge?

We are expanding our service provision and responding directly to the increasingly complex needs of homelessness by increasing our housing stock. We are also addressing some of the problems that are entwined with homelessness through providing free counselling and occupational therapy. This also involves providing medical treatment programmes specifically tailored to homeless patients, as well as supporting our clients with education and employability.

How has your relationship with Bord Gáis Energy developed?

Bord Gáis Energy has always promptly offered us competitive rates and helped us with addressing any issues for all Dublin Simon properties. The benefit of that is that all of our accounts are active and continuously well managed with support from Bord Gáis Energy.

Dublin Simon owns and manages a significant portfolio of independent living units, managed service buildings and operational and support buildings. It is extremely valuable that all utilities provided by Bord Gáis Energy are reliable in order to deliver a well managed account for Dublin Simon Community.

Why is it important for Dublin Simon to reduce its carbon footprint?

The Simon Community has a strong track record of carrying out deep retrofit upgrades to its building stock with specific attention on the environmental upgrade of the facilities and the reduction of the carbon footprint.

What does the future hold for Dublin Simon?

We look to the future not with visions of expansion and growth, but with the hope that there will no longer be a need for us anymore. Our 50th anniversary in September 2019 was a commemoration rather than a celebration, as ideally there would not be a homelessness crisis to necessitate our existence. Our short-term goals are to keep moving people out of homelessness and to keep making home a reality for vulnerable adults and children across Ireland.

Photo: Dublin Simon Community CEO Sam McGuinness (left) and housing minister Eoghan Murphy outline plans for the organisation’s 100-bed medical residential treatment and recovery facility development at Ushers Island

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