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Midlands Simon Community works with people who experience homelessness in Counties Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath. In 2006 the Midlands Simon Community piloted its first service, a Regional Settlement Service. This service aims to support people to progress out of homelessness by:
Supporting people to source suitable accommodation.
Assisting people to move into their new home.
Supporting people to maintain their new home.
Over 100 individuals, couples and families will be referred to this service in the first year. Research evaluating the efficacy of the service has recorded ‘the qualitative improvements in peoples lives and dignity because of the Settlement Service’s intervention’.
We believe that creating an integrated response is critical to ending homelessness. This partnership approach is most evident in the protocol agreement between the four local Authorities in Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath, the H.S.E Dublin Mid-Leinster Region and the Midlands Simon Community. This agreement maps out the roles, responsibilities and resource commitments of each agency in the operation of the Regional Settlement Service.
We are also an active member of the homeless fora in Laois, Longford Offaly and Westmeath and the newly established Regional Inter Agency Homeless Forum.
We believe that the response to the issue is the responsibility of all of society. To this end Friends of Simon Committees have been established in Laois, Offaly and Westmeath. These local committees will support our work by becoming involved in volunteering, campaigning and fundraising.
In aiming to become a Service User lead organisation we have established a Service Users forum. The vision is that people with direct experience of homelessness have a forum where there needs and voices are heard and acted on. Provision will also be made to allow for Service Users representation at each level of the organisation.
A priority concern for 2007 is to work in partnership with the H.S.E and the four Local Authorities to implement the findings of the Regional Settlement Service. Gaining access to housing is a constant challenge and we will continue to work with the Local Authorities to ensure that the housing needs of people who experience homelessness are prioritised. Gaps still exist across the Midlands in the need for appropriate services for people who have emergency accommodation needs. We hope to progress solutions to these needs in 2007.