Merchants Quay Ireland warns of “rapidly changing landscape of homelessness” as the charity launches urgent appeal for support

 

Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI), the national homeless and addiction charity, has today launched its summer appeal, seeking support for the growing number of people in homelessness as a result of the cost of living crisis. The appeal comes as the monthly homeless figures released by the Department of Housing surpass 10,000 for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MQI CEO Paula Byrne says that MQI must prepare now to support the increasing number of homeless clients:

“The rising cost of living coupled with the housing crisis is rapidly changing the landscape of homelessness in Ireland. Week by week, we are seeing more clients of all ages and backgrounds coming to our door, having lost everything. It’s easy to see how someone can quickly find themselves in dire straits. Many ordinary men and women are already vulnerable, barely hanging on. Then the rent is hiked, or a job is lost, or, as food and energy prices soar, it just becomes impossible to make ends meet, and suddenly someone is homeless. MQI needs to be there to support people as they face their new and frightening reality.” 

MQI highlights that the experience of homelessness is traumatic. The longer people are homeless, the more likely they are to fall into addiction and suffer from poor mental health. With increasing numbers of people becoming homeless, it is inevitable they will remain in homelessness for longer. 

Byrne says: 

“While the priority is of course getting roofs over people’s heads, we are calling on the government not to lose sight of the vital role played by day services in supporting people out of homelessness. People who are homeless rely on MQI for basic support such as food, showers and a change of clothes. They also rely on our team to support with housing applications, welfare applications and other crisis interventions. But the longer people are homeless, the more their health deteriorates and the demand for our healthcare and other services intensifies. 

“In order to build our services to meet the rapidly growing demand, before winter sets in, we need your help urgently. Please, give what you can today.”

To donate, please visit www.mqi.ie 

 -ENDS-

 

Notes to the editor: 

About Merchants Quay Ireland

Merchants Quay Ireland is the national charity working with people who are homeless and in addiction. The organisation provides services ranging from open access crisis intervention and health promotion services to day-support programmes, residential treatment, detox, and prison counselling.

MQI’s Open Access Centre in Dublin provides vital services such as food, showers, harm reduction, healthcare and mental healthcare to approximately 10,000 people per year.

The housing and cost of living crises are combining to create a situation in which groups of vulnerable people are being pushed into homelessness. 

Two key demographics presenting to MQI: 

  • Women fleeing abusive homes. The COVID-19 lockdown unleashed a wave of domestic violence, and with the cost of living crisis putting further pressure on families, more and more women are forced into homelessness for the first time. 

MQI client Denise*, who is a midwife and a mother of four grownup children, became homeless for the first time at fifty-one. Over the course of her marriage, her husband had become abusive and controlling. 

“He gave me thirty euro a week to survive on. I felt like a prisoner in my own home. I ended up on O’Connell Street with just a rucksack. I had no idea where to turn and ended up at the door of MQI. I was overwhelmed. I remember being in that queue thinking, ‘Oh my God. This is the end.’” Denise is now linking in daily with our staff, who have supported her to open up her first bank account in her own name, to get a mobile phone with credit to keep in touch with her family, to access emergency accommodation, and to apply for her social welfare payments. She hopes to return to employment this year and reestablish her relationship with her children. 

 

  • Vulnerable young people. Many young people who are living on the margins and just surviving, with little or no family support. The current economic crisis threatens their tenuous security. 

Patrick* is twenty three and is part of our Young Persons Support Programme. He has no relationship with his father, who left before he was five, and his mother passed away a number of years ago. As a child he was in and out of foster homes because his mother struggled with an alcohol addiction, but he maintained an extremely close relationship with her. “When mum died, I just lost my mind. I was very close to her and I just had a breakdown”.

Despite these many childhood challenges and despite feeling alone and overcome with grief, Patrick managed to find a flat, get the mental health support he needed and even started training to become a hairdresser. Then, as a cruel consequence of COVID lockdowns, he lost his job and his ability to make ends meet. Already a vulnerable young man, his life spiralled out of control. “I used to have a life,” he explains. “I used to have a job and a flat. But everything got so expensive. I couldn’t cope and I lost it all. I’m doing a course right now, but it’s hard to keep going, without somewhere to call my home.”

*out of respect for the privacy of our clients, all names have been changed

 

Sources for the statistics contained in this press release:

 

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Laura McDowell

Communications Officer

086 779 3206

communications@mqi.ie 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

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