Mairead McGuinness MEP for the Midlands and first Vice-President of the European Parliament has praised the work of Midlands Simon, the Presentation Sisters and the housing agency, Sophia, for their collaboration in addressing homelessness in the Midlands region.
In Athlone on Friday (3rd May), the MEP met with the board of Midlands Simon, the Sophia housing agency and Presentation Sisters Frances Crowe and Dominique Murphy.
Following the meeting she said she was very impressed by the work being done and the focus on support for service users in their housing first approach.
And she praised the role of the Presentation Sisters. “They have provided offices to Midlands Simon as well as providing land for the construction of social housing in a number of towns in the region, with plans to build over 100 homes,” she said.
“While this ground work is both vital and important, it is very regrettable to hear of the bureaucratic obstacles facing these projects that give people a fresh start and support them all the way.
“Bureaucracy between Local Authorities and the Department of Housing is getting in the way of providing much needed social housing. This must be addressed as the housing needs are great and unnecessary bureaucratic delays are impeding progress.”
The MEP also met a group of service users from the Midlands region who spoke about their needs and how Midlands Simon was instrumental in getting them homes and providing ongoing support.
“I was impressed with their personal journeys of how they found themselves homeless and have battled so many challenges in their lives. “Their stories need to be heard, she added.
“We discussed the public’s perception of homelessness which can sometimes de-humanise the individual. The services users I met challenged all of us on how we perceive homelessness,” the MEP said.
“Midlands Simon provides an invaluable support service for those in need in the community. This service does not simply end at providing housing. I was impressed to hear of the continuing role played by Midlands Simon in helping to re-integrate users in the community and in tackling loneliness.”
McGuinness said she would write to Minister Eoghan Murphy to highlight the concerns about bureaucratic logjams which are resulting in unacceptable delays in getting new homes built.