Holistic Approach Needed to Help Homeless Says Committee

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 03 March 2016

Reference: SD 02/15/16

The Committee for Social Development received briefings today from the Department for Social Development and from a number of frontline organisations on the work being carried out currently to support the homeless and, particularly ‘rough sleepers’ in local towns and cities.

Today’s briefing follows the recent tragic deaths of four homeless men in Belfast. The Committee wished to hear concerns about the circumstances surrounding the deaths and to discuss any and all measures that could be taken to further support the homeless.   

Following today’s meeting, Committee Chairperson Alex Maskey MLA said: “While there can be no doubt that our local homeless support organisations are doing an excellent job, it is clear that there remains a number of deeply entrenched and complex issues affecting some rough sleepers. Tackling this will require not only a multi-agency approach in order to address physical and mental health issues; but also a collaborative approach between voluntary organisations to optimise the provision of services to these vulnerable members of our society.”   

Mr Maskey continued: “The Committee welcomes that a Ministerial High-Level Group comprising the Ministers for Social Development, Health and Justice has been established. It is our sincere hope that this will provide a genuine opportunity to develop new proposals and practical action plans to enhance collaboration and co-ordination between the Departments and to ultimately deliver a better service to the homeless here.”

“The public response to the recent deaths is understandable but we must refrain from a knee-jerk reaction. Actions based on evidence and experience are required if we are to implement a measured and appropriate response. Homelessness is an issue that the Committee will recommend is addressed as a priority in the new mandate by the incoming Committee.”

Mr Maskey concluded: “On behalf of the Committee I would like to take this opportunity to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the four men who recently passed away.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Committee Membership:

Mr Alex Maskey (Chairperson)

Mr Fra McCann (Deputy Chairperson)

Mr Jim Allister

Mr Roy Beggs

Ms Paula Bradley

Mr Gregory Campbell

Mr Stewart Dickson

Mr Sammy Douglas

Mr Phil Flanagan

Mrs Dolores Kelly

Mr Adrian McQuillan

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