Advocacy Events & Lunchtime Talks

Advocacy Events & Lunchtime Talks

Focus Ireland advocacy events aim to generate discussion, share knowledge, and explore solutions to resolving homelessness.

National Conference: Ending Homelessness - Overcoming the Barriers

Focus Ireland’s 2018 National Conference took place in City Hall, Cork on the theme of ‘Ending Homelessness – Overcoming the Barriers’.

The conference explored the barriers which have been identified as blocking or delaying progress in solutions to the housing and homelessness crisis. While many of the targets in Rebuilding Ireland are being met, the total number of people who are homeless continues to rise. The targets for new social housing delivery become increasingly challenging in the coming years and there are questions as to whether the targets are adequate given the scale of the challenge we face.

Topics covered in the conference:

Social Mix and the fear of new ghettos

Land and the means to build on it

Fiscal space and the fear of overheating the economy

Speakers/chairs included:

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: David McWilliams, Economist, Broadcaster and Author

John Boughton, author of ‘Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing’

Ger Spillane, Focus Ireland

Prof Michelle Norris, UCD

Prof Rory O’Donnell, Director NESC

AnnMarie Farrelly , Director of Planning, Fingal County Council

Brian Geaney, Director of Services, Cork City Council

Seamus Coffey, Department of Economics in University College Cork.

Brendan O’Sullivan , UCC

Full agenda for the day is available here.

Looking beyond the Homeless Crisis Lecture Series

Our “Looking beyond the Homeless Crisis Lecture Series” was launched on Monday 23rd April 2018 and featured the eminent homelessness researcher Prof. Dennis Culhane (University of Pennsylvania) who presented his paper Adult Homelessness: Risk Period or Cohort Effect? Implications for Policy and Practice.” Through the examination of large-scale quantitative evidence, this paper demonstrated how many people who become homeless during a housing and homelessness crisis can ‘become stuck’ in homelessness for some time. Anticipatory planning is needed to ensure that appropriate and targeted interventions can address these issues effectively and in a timely manner.

John Murphy from the Homelessness Inter-Agency Group (HIAG) (which was set up under Rebuilding Ireland) provided a response to the presentation by situating the research findings in the Irish context. A key question was addressing the high risk of prolonged homelessness among some individuals, long after a periodic ‘homeless crisis’ has ended. Some key questions included:

  • how to maintain political/administrative momentum after the peak of the crisis
  • how to support different agencies and organisations to tackle multi-faceted problems
  • how to set and retain focus on meaningful targets

Dr Helen Johnston from the National Economic and Social Council chaired the event which included an open discussion from the floor.

About “Looking beyond the Homeless Crisis Lecture Series”: Today, homelessness appears to be on an inexorable rise and every voluntary organisation, state agency, volunteer and policy maker is entirely consumed in responding to some new element of the crisis. But there will come a time when the measures put in place to deliver new affordable housing will begin to match the demand, and the numbers entering homelessness will fall and we will have ‘turned the corner’.

Unless we start thinking about what is around that corner, Ireland will be unprepared for the new opportunities and challenges in homelessness that await. How will the structures and policies we have put in place to handle the homeless crisis serve us when an opportunity arises to cut homelessness funding? How easy will it be to dismantle the infrastructure of emergency accommodation that have been necessary to build? How will we avoid turning ‘first responses’ into long-term arrangements?

Focus Ireland and Trinity College School of Social Work and Social Policy is beginning a series of events and publications over the next two years which will start to open up a debate on these issues and start laying the foundations we need to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

Lunchtime Talks

Focus Ireland and School of Social Work and Social Policy (Trinity College Dublin) host monthly lunchtime talks on emerging homelessness research in Ireland and internationally. There is also time allocated to discussion after presentations as a way of exploring possible policy implications.

Lunchtime talks are open to all. Please RSVP using the links provided.

Venue*: George’s Hill Chapel, Halston Street, Dublin 7. Click here for map.

*On occasion, a lunchtime talk or event may be hosted in a different venue and will be listed as such.


Upcoming Talks & Events 2018

Focus Ireland Research Launch: “Young Families in the Homeless Crisis: Challenges and Solutions”

Dr Sharon Lambert (UCC) has led on a research study (commissioned by Focus Ireland) focusing on the experience of young people who are living in emergency accommodation with their children. The study focuses specifically on those young people who became homeless as a result of new family formation, and who lived in their family home before presenting as homeless. Their routes into homelessness, their experiences of services and the various barriers they face in exiting to stable housing are all explored in this report. A number of stakeholders were also interviewed to inform the research findings. This study will be of interest to both policy-makers and service practitioners working with young families in emergency accommodation.

Date: Thursday 13th December, 2018

Time: 10:00 – 11:30 am (registration from 09:30 am)

Venue: Buswells Hotel, 23-27 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2

Tea and coffee will be provided. Please email Sarah.Sheridan@focusireland.ie to RSVP.

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Previous Talks & Events

Wednesday 12th December 2018 – HOMELESSNESS & DATA TRENDS IN IRELAND – 2014 to recent trends in 2018

‘Recent Trends in Homelessness in Ireland’. In analysing statistical reports on adults and child dependents experiencing homelessness published by Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Prof. Eoin O’Sullivan presented trends in both the prevalence and profile of individuals and families experiencing homelessness across Ireland from 2014 to 2018. The presentation also considered the recent reclassification of households in the monthly snapshot of adults in emergency accommodation, and recent expenditure on services for those experiencing homelessness.

Wednesday 14th November 2018 – Leaving Well Digital Tool: Tracking Outcomes among Care Leavers

In this presentation, Ashni Shah and Hannah Jump from Social Finance UK presented research that led to the development of an app that supports young people leaving care.

Across the UK and Ireland, more than 11,000 young people leave foster and residential care every year. The data collected on these young people is currently very limited, making it difficult to understand the causes of these outcomes and how to improve them. Leaving Well was set up by Social Finance in 2014. Since then they have researched the leaving care system to understand how it can be improved.

Based on their research, they developed a digital tool which aims to improve the support that young people receive – working with personal advisers and young people to develop every feature in the tool. The tool: (i) gives young people a platform to express their voice and ambitions, (ii) enables personal advisers to spend more time with young people, and (iii) provides managers with information on their services. This can be used to identify areas which should be improved.

About Social Finance: Social Finance is a not for profit organisation that partners with the government, the social sector and the financial community to find better ways of tackling entrenched social problems. Since starting in 2007, Social Finance has helped to pioneer a series of programmes to improve outcomes for individuals with complex needs. Their innovations, including the Social Impact Bond model, have mobilised more than £500 million globally. They have sister organisations in the US, Israel and India and a network of partners across the world. In the UK, their work includes support for 2,000 short sentence offenders released from Peterborough Prison, 700 children on the edge of care in Essex and London, 4,500 young people at risk of dropping out of school, 3,000 isolated older people, 2,500 people with severe mental health issues, and 1,400 homeless youth and rough sleepers.

Thursday 1st November 2018 – Research Launch: Are you still ok? – housing tenancy sustainment among Focus Ireland customers

To better understand the longer-term impact of our services, Focus Ireland embarked on a unique and innovative programme to verify whether tenancies which were in place among customers at the time they disengaged from Focus Ireland services were still in place six months later. This research details the level of tenancy sustainment among our customers while also exploring their housing concerns, perceptions of housing security, and service satisfaction. The data was collected over the course of 2017 through monthly telephone surveys with customers and was conducted by a team of three peer researchers – people who have themselves had lived experience of homelessness and have now trained as researchers.

The report is available here.

Wednesday 17th October 2018 – Profiling Barriers to Social Inclusion in Ireland: the relative roles of individual characteristics and location 

The October  lunchtime talk event was presented by Seamus McGuinness who is a Research Professor in the ESRI and Trinity College Dublin.

In this presentation, Professor McGuinness examined which Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) participants are most likely to experience at least one of five barriers to social inclusion, which are described as belonging to a jobless household, lone parenthood, disability, homelessness and belonging to an ethnic minority.

Tuesday 18th September 2018 – Public Lecture – Recent Trends in Homelessness in Australia – Trinity College Dublin and Focus Ireland Event

The School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin and Focus Ireland held a public lecture in Trinity College featuring Jenny Smith (Council for the Homeless, Victoria) on “Recent Trends in Homelessness in Australia”. Jenny Smith is the CEO of the Council to Homeless Persons which is the peak body for Victoria’s specialist homelessness sector.

Wednesday 12th September 2018 – Homeless Services Users’ Recovery Experiences in Eight European Countries: First findings from “Homelessness as Unfairness”

The September lunchtime talk was presented by Dr Ronni Greenwood, a Social-Community Psychologist and Lecturer in the Psychology Department at University of Limerick.

In this presentation, Dr. Greenwood described the Horizon2020-funded project “Homelessness as Unfairness”. This interdisciplinary project takes a capabilities approach to understanding homelessness as an extreme form of social inequality. The aim is to gain insight into national and local policies, citizens’ attitudes, characteristics of homeless services organizations, and service users’ experiences. At the end of the project, they aim to synthesize the findings into a set of recommendations for EU policy and action to end homelessness. Dr. Greenwood focused on the first findings from the Service Users component of this project. They compared recovery outcomes of 573 homeless services who were either enrolled in Housing First or traditional services users in France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. The first cross-sectional findings indicate that Housing First is associated with more positive recovery indicators across different political, economic, and social contexts. Implications of findings for policy and practice were discussed.

Wednesday 27th June 2018 – The prevalence of major mental illness, substance misuse and homelessness in Irish prisoners: systematic review and meta-analyses

The June lunchtime talk was presented by Dr. Noreen Keating, Senior Registrar in General Adult Psychiatry, North Tipperary Mental Health Services.

This research highlights that the Irish prison population are at increased risk of various morbidities, namely major mental illness, substance misuse and homelessness. In this light, the authors highlight that there is a need for service development nationally, in particular the development of diversion services and the consideration of integrated treatment plans addressing the psychiatric and psychosocial need.

Wednesday 16th May 2018 – Peer Research Involvement in Homeless Services

Peer research has emerged as a popular method of participatory social research. Broadly speaking, it is research that is guided and conducted by people with lived experience of the issue being studied, produced in collaboration with academic researchers. Focus Ireland employs a team of three peer researchers with lived experience of homelessness to assist in the tracking and monitoring of tenancy sustainment of customers after they disengage from services. This presentation, co-produced between Focus Ireland Research Officers and the peer researchers themselves, reflected on the process of becoming peer researchers and the challenges and opportunities that arise over this time.

Wednesday 11th April 2018 – Homeless Service Use in the Dublin Region 2017

Bernie O’Donoghue Hynes, Head of Research in the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, presented the 2017 year end data for the Dublin Region relating to the full range of services provided for singles and families experiencing homelessness. This included a review of homeless prevention services, numbers accessing and leaving emergency accommodation, families’ progression through services and the total number of tenancies secured over the year.

Wednesday 14th March 2018 – Public health and Homelessness: Two Papers on Hospital Use and Self-Harm among the Chronic Homeless Population

Dr Peter Barrett (UCC) presented on his medical research paper relating to the incidence of self-harm among the homeless population in Ireland and to assess factors associated with self-harm, concluding that there is a disproportionate burden of self-harm among the homeless and that targeted preventive actions are warranted.

Wednesday 21st February 2018 – Results from the Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA)

Daragh McCarthy, Researcher at the Housing Agency, provided details on the headline results from the SSHA, including a demographic profile of households on the waiting list, a breakdown of the current tenure of those qualified for support and how homeless households are recorded on the list. The legislative underpinning the count and the longer-term development of SSHA was also considered.

Wednesday 17th January 2018 – Half-Day Seminar on Images of Homelessness

This half-day seminar and discussion on images and public attitudes of homelessness explored the implications these constructions have in shaping policy and service responses to homelessness in Ireland. Presentations on the day came from:

  • Dr Beth Watts of Herriot Watt University who spoke about “Navigating the ethics of responses to homelessness: intentions, impacts and innovation.” and;
  • Dr Francesca Alabanese, Crisis (UK), who gave a very interesting presentation on “How to Create More Effective Messages on Homelessness” from a UK perspective.

The second half of the seminar involved an engaging discussion on issues such as coverage of homelessness in the media and the absence of women from discussions of homelessness from a panel including Cormac Fitzgerald (TheJournal.ie), Dr Paula Mayock (Trinity College Dublin) and Mike Allen (Focus Ireland).

Wednesday 13th December 2017 – FAMILY HOMELESSNESS IN EUROPE – Prof Nicholas Pleace, European Observatory on Homelessness

Nicholas Pleace (Director of Centre for Housing, University of York & European Observatory of Homelessness) presented findings from a recent comparative report of family homelessness across European countries. You can download the Family Homelessness in Europe  report here. 

Wednesday 6th December 2017 – Focus Ireland Double Report Launch

On 6th December, Focus Ireland published two reports on Family Homelessness:

  • Dr Kathy Walsh and Brian Harvey “Finding a Home”
  • Neil Haran and Séan O’Shuichrú “Keeping a Home”

These reports extend our knowledge on family homelessness but also contributed to Focus Ireland’s Organisational Strategic Plan 2017-2020 which seeks to prioritise both prevention and housing in tackling the problem of homelessness. Both reports can be downloaded in full here.

Wednesday 8 November 2017 – HOUSING LED POLICIES: IRELAND & NORWAY – Dr Evelyn Dyb, Prof Eoin O’Sullivan and Aidan Culhane

Dr Evelyn Dyb (Norwegian Institute for Urban & Regional Research, Oslo), Prof Eoin O’Sullivan (TCD) and Aidan Culhane (former advisor to Jan O’Sullivan) engaged in a roundtable discussion on Housing Led Policy in Ireland. This followed from a Focus Ireland evening event in the RIA in which Dr Dyb presented on how housing led policy has led to the substantial reduction of homeless figures in Norway since 2012 (presentation can be found here). This was compared to the significant increase in numbers in the Irish context over the same time period, as presented by Prof. O’Sullivan (click here for presentation).

Wednesday 18 October 2017 – INVESTING IN A RIGHT TO A HOME – Dr Mary Murphy and Dr Rory Hearne

Dr Mary Murphy and Dr Rory Hearne (University of Maynooth) presented findings from their recent research report entitled “Investing in the Right to a Home, Houses, HAP and Hubs.” Their report, which can be found here, focuses on the structural crisis of family homelessness in Ireland using a human rights and capability theoretical framework and a participatory approach.

Wednesday 20 September 2017 – FOOD AND NUTRITIONAL HEALTH AMONG FAMILIES IN HOTEL ACCOMMODATION – Dr Michelle Share (TCD)

Dr Share presented findings from her recent research report entitled “Food Access and Nutritional Health among Famliies in Emergency Accommodation”. Her report, which can be found here, integrated semi-structured interviews with families and photo-elicitation methodology.

June 2017 – PREVENTION & HOMELESSNESS – Dr Peter Mackie (Cardiff University), Dr Steve Gaetz (Canadian Observatory on Homelessness), and Mike Allen (Focus Ireland)

Dr Peter Mackie, Dr Steve Gaetz and Mike Allen explored the topic of preventing homelessness in a roundtable event. This event took the form of an open discussion which considered international lessons on prevention of homelessness and how this can be applied in an Irish context.

May 2017 – PRIVATE RENTED SECTOR: IRELAND V ENGLAND – Dr Tom Moore (University of Sheffield)

Dr Tom Moore presented findings from his comparative analysis of the private rented sector between Ireland and England. His report, which was co-written with Dr Richard Dunning (University of Liverpool) and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation can be found here.

April 2017 – CAUSES OF FAMILY HOMELESSNESS – Dr Sarah Sheridan, Research Officer, Focus Ireland

Sarah Sheridan (Focus Ireland’s Research Officer) presented analysis drawn from four waves of data collection during 2016. The findings – which are regularly published on the Focus Ireland website – yield insights into family homelessness which are of relevance to both services and policy-makers.

March 2017 – PASS DATA ANALYSIS – Dr. Bernie O’Donoghue Hynes, Head of Research, Dublin Region Homeless Executive

Dr O’Donoghue Hynes presented a detailed review of key data for the Dublin region.  A review of statistics relating to numbers of persons engaging and flowing through homeless services will be explored and past and future trends analysed.

February 2017 – FINANCIAL SAVINGS ANALYSIS OF HOMELESSNESS – Prof. Nicholas Pleace (University of York)

Nicholas Pleace presented on research he conducted with Dennis Culhane (University of Pennsylvania) which examined the financial implications of extending preventative services for single homeless people in England, drawing on the lessons of extending homelessness prevention in Wales.

January 2017 – MENTAL HEALTH AND HOMELESSNESS – Ruth Ceannt (Psychiatry Registrar, HSE).

This talk was based on a study into the experiences of staff members in Dublin’s homeless services on working with individuals who report mental illness and addiction issues. This research, which was carried out in May 2015 as part of a Masters in Global Health, involved interviewing staff in various homeless services using semi-structured interviews.

December 2016 – Alison Connolly (Policy Officer, Focus Ireland) and Daniel Hoey (Researcher)

This talk detailed the planning, roll-out and evaluation of a targeted homelessness prevention campaign in Dublin 15 funded by Bord Gais.

November 2016 – EXPENDITURE AND FUNDING OF HOMELESS SERVICES – Prof Eoin O’Sullivan (Trinity College Dublin).

The presentation analysed trends in expenditure over the past 4 years, exploring the breakdown of expenditure between preventative and emergency services, the extent of funding by service provider and regional variations.

October 2016 – HOSPITAL DATA AND HOMELESSNESS – Dr Anne O’Farrell (HSE)

Dr Anne O’Farrell from the HSE examined inpatient hospitalisation admission data and found a 400% increase of individuals who were categorised as having “no fixed abode” over the last ten years.

September 2016 – JOBELESSNESS AND HOMELESSNESS – Dr. Helen Johnston (NESC)

Helen Johnston of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) talked about research on the circumstances of these jobless households, and explored the links between homelessness and joblessness.

June 2016 – REINVEST H2020 PROJECT: Dr Mary Murphy and Zuzanna Kucharski (NUI Maynooth) and Reinvest Peer Research Team (Paul Haughan, Emma Richardson, Kathleena Twomey and Tom Thompson)

‘Hearing it from the ground up’: An account of peer research into the social damage of the crisis in Ireland. This study forms part of a wider EU-funded Horizon 2020 study.

Reinvest Research Team

May 2016 – DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND HOMELESSNESS – Dr Steph Holt (School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin)

‘Evaluation of Sonas Safe Home Project’. Dr Steph Holt presented research findings from a mixed methods study of a Sonas housing service for victims of domestic abuse.

April 2016 – HOUSING FIRST AND HOMELESSNESS – Prof. Tim Aubry (University of Ottawa), Freek Spinnewijn (Director, FEANTSA) and Adrian Quinn (Focus Ireland)

Roundtable discussion on the implementation of Housing First in both an Irish and a European Context. This event provided an opportunity to explore barriers and opportunities in implementing Housing First in Canada and across Europe and to generate discussion on how we apply these learnings to an Irish context.

Housing First Roundtable

March 2016 – HOMELESSNESS & DATA TRENDS IN IRELAND – Prof. Eoin O’Sullivan (School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin)

‘Recent Trends in Homelessness in Ireland’. In analysing statistical reports on homeless populations published by Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, Prof. O’Sullivan presenting emerging trends in both the prevalence and profile of individuals and families becoming homeless across Ireland.

February 2016 – CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN HOMELESS ACCOMODATION – Alison Connolly (Policy Officer, Focus Ireland)

‘A Preliminary Analysis of Children and Families in Emergency Homeless Accommodation’. Alison presented key findings from an analysis of administrative data relating to families becoming homeless in 2015.

Focus Ireland Ending Youth Homelessness - National Conference Limerick

In September 2017, we held a national conference on Ending Youth Homelessness in Ireland.

This conference marked the launch of the Irish Coalition to End Youth Homelessness

National conference limerick


  Speakers/chairs included:
  • Sr Stan Kennedy (Founder of Focus Ireland)
  • Dr Paula Mayock (Trinity College Dublin)
  • Eilis Lawlor (Just Economics)
  • Stuart Mulholland (Welltree, Scotland)
  • Dr Tom Boland & Dr Ray Griffin (Waterford Institute of Technology)
  • Samara Jones (FEANTSA)
  • Joe Finnerty (University College Cork)
  • Young people affected by homelessness
  • National Youth Council of Ireland
  • Tusla

This event was attended by 120 key stakeholders and practitioners working in the area of youth homelessness – across all agencies, bodies and organisations. Researchers and students working on youth homelessness were also in attendance.

National conference limerick


This event was supported by Human Dignity Foundation .

Research Report Launches 2017

“Food Access and Nutritional Health among Families in Homeless Emergency Accommodation” – Report Launch August 2017

Focus Ireland: Research Report Launch - Food Access and Nutritional Health for Families in Emergency Accommodation Front Cover image

Nuala Ward (Director of Investigations, Ombudsman for Children) launched a report on food access and nutritional health of families living in emergency homeless accommodation. The report – which was led by Dr Michelle Share from the School of Education (Trinity College Dublin) – explores families’ everyday experiences of food routines and strategies in homeless accommodation and the impact this has had on the nutrition and health outcomes on both parents and their children. This research was funded by DCYA and Department of Health and commissioned by Focus Ireland.

“Living in Limbo: Homeless Young People’s Paths to Housing” – Report Launch 29th May 2017

Former President Mary McAleese launched Dr Paula Mayock and Sarah Parker’s (School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin) newly-published book “Living in Limbo” which details findings of a longitudinal study of young people experiencing homelessness. This study – which ‘tracks’ young people and their family members over time – marks a critical contribution to our understanding of youth homelessness in Ireland today. The report was funded by Focus Ireland, Simon Communities, Threshold, St Vincent de Paul, and Peter McVerry Trust. See the Irish Times news piece on the report here.

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Launch of Limerick Youth Housing Evaluation-  Report Launch 29 June 2017

Focus Ireland and Tusla co-launched an evaluation on Limerick Youth Housing which was conducted by Just Economics research consultants. The success of the project is seen to be linked to the effective and productive partnership approach between Focus Ireland, Tusla and Limerick City & County Council. It is hoped that Focus Ireland will be able to use the service as a model of good practice to be replicated elsewhere around the country through a partnership approach, as articulated in our recently-published Youth Housing Model.  There was extensive regional and national media coverage of the event, including RTE Drive Time and RTE News.

Previous Advocacy Events 2016

Advocacy Events in Partnership with School of Social Work and Social Policy (TCD)

Public evening event on “Preventing Homelessness: Lessons from Wales and Canada”- 28th June 2017 – Royal Irish Academy

Dr Peter Mackie (University of Cardiff), Melanie Redman (A Way Home, Canada) and Dr Steve Gaetz (Canadian Observatory of Homelessness) presented on homelessness prevention in Wales and Canada.

Focus Ireland 10th Annual Conference: “No Going Back- Building Sustainable Pathways out of Homelessness” – Tuesday 27th September 2016 – Aviva Stadium

Prof. Guy Johnson –

Keynote session: What can 80 Aussie’s tell us about Homelessness?

Ireland’s Forgotten Homeless: Youth Homelessness and Lessons from the Canadian Campaign to End Youth Homelessness’:

An Open Meeting Event with Prof Steve Gaetz (Homeless Hub), Melanie Redman (A Way Home: Working Together to End youth Homelessness) and Dr Paula Mayock (TCD). Chaired by Gordon Hill (National Youth Council of Ireland). This even took place on 28th June 2016 in the Royal Irish Academy, Dawson Street.

‘Developing Housing First in Canada’ – Professor Tim Aubry

Professor Tim Aubry (At Home/Chez Soi Demonstration Project, University of Ottawa) gave a presentation on Housing First in Canada on 19th April 2016 in Trinity College Dublin.