Advocacy Events & Lunchtime Talks

Advocacy Events & Lunchtime Talks

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

Lunchtime Talks & Events

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.

Upcoming Talks

As all of our lunchtime talks and events are currently taking place via Zoom, the recordings of our webinar series are available in a playlist here.

When you are homeless you are not planning your life – The impact of housing insecurity on the capacity to aspire for women with children

Date: Wednesday 28th of April
Time: 1pm

Focus Ireland is part of an EU funded project, REGAL that aims to identify current policy gaps that affect marginalised women in five countries and propose solutions to addressing barriers to work and in-work poverty at the European level. As part of the project, twelve research sessions held in Dublin before the onset of Covid-19 explored core concepts of barriers and aspirations with a diverse group of 16 women with children who have experienced homelessness or housing insecurity.  A key finding from the research was the impact of homelessness, poverty and being a mother on the women’s capacity to aspire for the future, namely their aspirations for work and education. This lunchtime talk will explore the contrast in how aspirations were framed between the women in emergency accommodation versus those who were housed.

Speakers: 

Fay White, Independent Researcher.

Fay White worked in the Advocacy Team in Focus Ireland from 2017 to 2020, working across research, policy, campaigns, comms and education. Since September 2020 she has been doing a Masters in Public Policy in UCD, specialising in research. During this time she has continued to work on the REGAL Project as an independent researcher. She holds a BA International in Sociology and Spanish and a HDip in Social Policy from UCD.

Kelly Anne Byrne and Deborah Stansbie, Co-Researchers.

Kelly and Deborah were co-researchers in the REGAL project and will contribute to the talk with their lived experience stories.

Please register here.


Previous Talks & Events

Visual Representations of Homelessness in Irish News Media

Date: Wednesday 24th of March
Time: 1pm

The way homelessness is addressed and presented in the Irish news media will influence public opinion, as well as the political and policy responses. The Irish news media have a responsibility, and opportunity, to reshape and refocus the discussion by avoiding established stereotypes and images, concentrating instead on structural causes and solutions. This research was undertaken with a key focus on how the experience of homelessness is visually presented in the Irish news media through the method of content analysis. The research also aims to aid reflection on whether the visual presentation of homelessness is truthful, representative and inclusive of those people we know to be experiencing homelessness in Ireland.

Speakers: 

Veronica Segerstrom

Originally from Sweden, Veronica moved to Ireland in 1996 to start a B.A. in Anthropology.  Life and family followed, and Veronica returned to college as a mature student in 2018, completing a special Certificate in Leadership in Intercultural Communities, awarded by T.U. Dublin, followed by the M.Sc. in Applied Social Research at Trinity College Dublin in 2019. Curiosity about the social world, interest in documentaries and visual communication and a rewarding work placement with Focus Ireland, led Veronica towards the thesis topic of visual representations of homelessness in Irish news media.

Noel Baker

Noel Baker is Social Affairs Correspondent with the Irish Examiner and has reported with the paper since 2006, based in its Dublin and Cork offices. He is a reporter with 20 years experience across a number of national titles and has also contributed to a range of broadcast media. He has a longstanding interest in social justice issues and is a two-time winner at the Law Society’s Justice Media Awards.

When Crises Meet: An examination of the role of soup runs and day centres in responding to homelessness in Dublin

Date: Wednesday 24tht of February

The objective of this research was to provide an overview of the service landscape and responses to homelessness in Dublin with a focus on the role of soup runs and day centres, examining how these provide spaces of care in the city, before looking at how responses have been affected by COVID-19 and the restrictions that accompanied it, once again with a focus on soup runs and day centres, looking in particular at service providers’ experience of this time and how their ability, and the ability of their service, to provide care might have been challenged or compromised.

Speaker: Ina Caul

Ina Caul – Ina is from Dublin. In 2019 she graduated from Trinity College with a first-class honours in Geography and German. During her time at undergraduate she developed a strong interest in Urban Geography, in particular the redevelopment of Dublin and issues around housing, homelessness and social justice within the city. She then went on to do an MSc in Human Geography, specialising in Urban Geography, at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, from which she graduated with honours in August of last year. For her master’s thesis she carried out research on homelessness services in Dublin, focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on soup runs and day centres, which is the subject of this lunchtime talk.

Respondent: Conor Roe, Focus Ireland

Conor is the Project Leader of the Coffee Shop in Dublin’s city centre. Open every day, this service provides professional services, access to food, respite and access and advice and information to single people and families who are out of home or at risk of homelessness. The service also provides a safe environment which facilitates social inclusion and enables customers to become more involved in services.

Please register here.

The experience and risk of homelessness for people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism and their families in Dublin. A mixed methods study.

Date: Wednesday 20th of January
Time: 1pm

Speakers:
Dr Mary-Ann O’Donovan (Exec Director, Centre for Disability Studies), Ms Emer Lynch (Principal Social Workers, Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services), Ms Linda O’Donnell (Co-ordinator of Independent Living, Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services) and Ms Kathyan Kelly (Research Assistant)

Response:

Martina Smith, CEO HAIL (Housing Association for Integrated Living)

Details:
This research is a collaborative project between the Trinity Centre for Ageing and Intellectual Disability (TCAID) and Daughters of Charity and funded by the National Disability Authority. It is a small mixed methods study that explores the experiences of people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorders experiencing homelessness or homelessness risk in the period March to June 2020. It uses a single Service Provider in Dublin, the Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services (DOCDSS) and elicits views of staff, and service users and their families. As a small case study, it sought the views of four Service Users and five family members within the DOCDSS and Staff Members who are working directly with Service Users, providing a qualitative overview. Quantitative data was provided by the Electronic Client Record System of the DOCDSS to provide a socio-demographic profile of Service Users. Additionally, Staff Members provided additional statistics (based on their individual caseloads) who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.

About the Speakers:

Dr Mary-Ann O’Donovan
Associate Professor Mary-Ann O’Donovan has recently been appointed as the new Executive Director of Centre for Disability Studies. She comes from the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin. She has a breadth of research experience – management of national disability databases, analysis of large datasets, qualitative research, and policy content analysis. She has a particular interest in housing for people with intellectual disability including de-institutionalisation, housing mobility and housing stability, choice and impact of housing and where one lives on health and health service utilisation. She has been in involved in a range research projects that have studied the health and wellbeing of people with intellectual disability.
As Assistant Professor in Intellectual Disability and Inclusion within the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin, Mary-Ann was the course co-ordinator for the Fetac Level 5 Certificate in Arts, Science and Applied Inclusive Practice for People with Intellectual Disabilities within the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID).

Ms Emer Lynch, Principal Social Workers, DOCDSS
Emer has been a Social Worker for nearly 25 years, mainly in the field of Intellectual Disability and has worked for a number of organisations both in Ireland and in the US.  Emer has also worked in the areas of Child Protection and Homelessness as well as in a volunteer capacity. Emer has found that the issue of housing has been one of the most significant factors impacting on quality of life outcomes. A large part of her role has been advocating for families and highlighting the challenges and barriers accessing suitable housing as experienced by service users and families within the DOCDSS.

Ms Linda O’Donnell, Co-ordinator of Independent Living, DOCDSS
Linda has worked with the DOCDSS for 35 years, initially in a care staff role and later as a Social Care Worker in Community Housing. For the past 7 years, Linda has been involved in supporting individuals within the service to independent living where that is their wish.
This role started in 2012 with the support of Genio, the European organisation which supports disadvantaged people to live their best lives. Linda trained with Genio to engage with individuals utilising a personalised Discovery Process. This process focusses on the values and wishes of the person from their past to their present and towards their hopes for the future.  This individualised approach has led her to work to secure independent accommodation for people who want to live on their own terms with the requisite pre-planning and numerous supports in place.

Ms Kathyan Kelly, Research Assistant
Kathyan has a background in health, mental health and communication spanning over 30 years.  She has worked on a number of projects as an independent research consultant, and has a specific interest in social inclusion and works predominantly with vulnerable populations. Her work in research has focussed on the experiences of people with mental health issues, substance misuse disorder, intellectual disability as well as working with children in at-risk families and those experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.

Martina Smith, CEO HAIL

Marina has extensive experience working in the housing sector, having worked for Approved Housing Bodies here for over 12 years as Chief Executive and Business Development Manager. She also worked in London for 14 years in the Housing Department of a number of Local Authorities. Her experience there included housing management, development, strategic and business planning and regulatory and financial management.

In HAIL, as CEO, she has responsibility for the overall management of the organisation and delivery of the Strategic Plan. HAIL primarily provides housing and support to people with mental health difficulties to enable them to live independently in the community.

Please register here.

Launch of An Evaluation of the North Tipperary Intensive Tenancy Sustainment Service

Date: December 10th
Time: 2-3pm

This report, jointly funded by the HSE mental health services in the Mid West and Focus Ireland, provides an evaluation of the North Tipperary Intensive Tenancy Support Service, which was a key element of the Mid West Service Improvement Programme (2018–2020). Funding secured in 2018 provided mental health services in the Mid West with an opportunity to introduce Tenancy Support and Sustainment (TSS) staff, employed by Focus Ireland, to two community mental health teams in North Tipperary. A key priority of the project was that TSS staff would be fully integrated with the multidisciplinary teams based in Nenagh and Thurles. The project was shortlisted for a Health Services Excellence Award in March 2020 and the team were honoured when this project was selected as category winner for Innovation in Service Delivery. The evaluation included an analysis of available administrative data, 14 semi-structured interviews with key project stakeholders and an online survey circulated to 33 staff members. The findings outline the effectiveness of the innovative service in terms of key outcomes and the components of a successful model of practice.

Speaker:
Aoife Dowling, Research Consultant

Aoife Dowling is an independent research consultant, having worked as a senior research analyst in an international research consultancy. Aoife has been employed within varied research areas and expertise includes needs analysis, policy analysis & appraisal, data & spatial analysis, data coordination & visualisation and production of evidence baseline reports. Her research interests include vulnerable children and young people, socio-demographic mapping & analysis and mental health, substance misuse & homeless services. She holds an Honours Degree in Geography, an H.Dip in Geographical Information Systems from Maynooth University and a Masters in Social Policy & Rights (Maynooth University).

The event will also feature contributions from:
Niamh Wallace, Head of Service, HSE
Ger Spillane, Regional Services Manager, Focus Ireland
Criomhthann McCarthy, Project Worker, Intensive Tenancy Sustainment Service

Please register here.

Symposium on Regaining Life for Precarious Women at Work (REGAL) European Research Project

Date: December 18th
Time: 10.00-13.00

Focus Ireland is part of an EU funded project, REGAL that aims to identify current policy gaps that affect marginalised women in five countries and propose solutions to addressing barriers to work and in-work poverty among these groups of women. This event will feature presentations and discussions of the data gathered from 12 research sessions held in Dublin before the onset of Covid-19 that explored core concepts of barriers and aspirations with a diverse group of 15 women with children who have experienced homelessness or housing insecurity. The innovative and participatory research methodology employed in this study will also be discussed.

With the recent Covid-19 crisis, many more parents across Ireland have now experienced the panic and stress associated with a lack of childcare and trying to juggle the many pressures of parenting while working. Unfortunately, this is an experience that the women in this study are all too familiar with. While the closure of childcare facilities gave an insight into the struggles associated with caring for children and taking part in work, this reality is still very much present for many parents. All of the women in this study were caring for children and childcare came up consistently from the women as being a major barrier to securing meaningful employment and a better income. There is clearly a need for policy change so that parents, particularly women, are not excluded from employment and achieving their goals and aspirations.

This virtual event will be divided into two sessions and will feature contributions from key stakeholders including: Senator Lynn Ruane; Sandra McCullagh, National Women’s Council; and David Joyce, Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU). Two participants in the research project will also contribute to the event with lived experience stories.

A full breakdown of the event format and speakers will be provided to those who register ahead of the event.

Please register here.

December Lunchtime Talk – Avoidance strategies: stress, appraisal and coping in hostel accommodation

Date: December 9th
Time: 1-2pm

Living in temporary accommodation (TA) can impact negatively on social and emotional well-being, particularly where it is poor-quality, large-scale, or congregate in nature. None-the-less, the ‘avoidance’ of TA, where an individual will sleep rough or squat when a bed space is available for their use, often provokes puzzlement on the part of the public, service providers and policy makers. Homeless people who abandon or avoid TA are often viewed as holding beliefs, characteristics or traits that render them unable or unwilling to make choices which prioritise their own well-being. Drawing on cognitive appraisal theory, and qualitative testimony from those with direct experience of TA in Belfast, this article challenges these perspectives, arguing that the avoidance of TA is better understood as a rational and reasoned response to an environment where intolerable levels of stress often pertain and individual control over stressors is extremely limited.

Speaker:
Lynne McMordie, PhD Researcher, Institute for Social Policy, Housing and Equalities Research (I-SPHERE), Heriot-Watt University

Lynne worked in the homelessness sector in Northern Ireland for over ten years, managing a range of services, including: temporary accommodation, drop-in centre, and street outreach services. She has worked extensively with marginalised adults, particularly in the areas of destitution and multiple exclusion. More recently, Lynne has commenced a PhD with the I-SPHERE team at Heriot-Watt University, on the design, use, and impacts of hostel accommodation for homeless households in the United Kingdom.

Respondent:
David Carroll, Chief Executive Officer, DEPAUL

David Carroll has been working with Depaul since August 2009 and was appointed Chief Executive Officer in August 2019. He has been working in homelessness services in a Senior Management role in service provision, development, policy and research and human resource management since 2001. As a professionally qualified Social Worker, he has considerable experience in the field of addiction, particularly drug use, and has also worked in the areas of Child Protection and Mental Health. David holds a BSc Hons (CQSW) in Social Work and an MA in Social Science, and has a particular interest in poverty, social exclusion and drug use issues. David previously directed services in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. He has been centrally involved in the re-organisation and modernisation of Depaul services due to changes in government policy.

Please register here.

Exploring Own-Door Models of Emergency Accommodation for Homeless Families in Ireland: A Comparative Case Study of Four Models

Date: Thursday 3rd of December

Time: 2.30pm – 3.30pm

Focus Ireland with the support of the Housing Agency are delighted to invite you to an event to launch a study exploring own-door models of emergency accommodation for homeless families in Ireland.

This study considers the strengths and weaknesses of four own-door models of emergency transitional accommodation for homeless families in Ireland: One in Dublin (Tallaght Cross); one in Waterford, Waterford Emergency Family Service and two in Limerick, the Childers Road Family Initiative and the Social Rental Model. The goals of the research were to compare these models to the State’s primary emergency accommodation responses (B&Bs/hotels and family hubs), to promote informed debate on the issue and to develop ideas to improve homeless families’ experiences of emergency accommodation. The data gathering methodology deployed was mainly qualitative: an analysis of all relevant documentation and data was combined with 46 interviews with the partners active in the four models as well as with a cross section of 21 family heads previously or currently accommodated in them. A subsequent roundtable discussion with key professionals also shaped the principal policy and practice implications.

Chair: 

Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy, Focus Ireland

Speakers:

Seán Ó Siochrú, Co-founder & Director of NEXUS Research

Seán has over 30 years’ experience of programme and project design, implementation, and evaluation in development and empowerment projects. In Ireland he has worked throughout his career for NGOs, CBOs, and state entities in a range of areas, including children’s services, homelessness, travellers, refugees, access to education, local development strategies, and public services. Internationally he has also led many major programme evaluations, sometimes heading multiple teams across continents; but also continues with short-term rapid assessments in areas of interest and across several domains including communication rights.

Neil Haran, Social Research & Planning Consultant

Neil has collaborated and led on numerous research projects during his time as a Social Research & Planning Consultant, including a study to establish a baseline of Traveller health for the Primary Health Care Programme (PHCP) of the mid-west region, a research project on the experience of adolescence with youth in Ballyfermot and a research and consultation process to establish the profile and needs of young people aged 10-18 years in County Limerick on behalf Limerick Youth Service. In his previous role, Neil was Programme Manager, Supporting Social Inclusion and Regeneration in Limerick Initiative under the University of Limerick.

Response:

Prof Beth Shinn, VanderBilt University, Tennessee

Prof Beth Shinn is one of the leading international experts on family homelessness. She co-led the 12-site Family Options Study of different approaches to ending family homelessness, evaluated the initial study of the Pathways Housing First experiment, and developed a model used by New York City to target its homelessness prevention services. Her recent book, In the Midst of Plenty: Homelessness and What To Do About It (with Jill Khadduri) has been described as a “critically important work (that) provides a roadmap to restoring basic housing and income security as viable policy options, in the face of our daunting inequality divide that otherwise threatens millions with destitution and homelessness.” (Dennis Culhane, Dana and Andrew Stone Professor of Social Policy, University of Pennsylvania)

Please register here.

October Lunchtime Talk – Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) in Europe: The experience of the Rock Trust Pilot, Scotland

Date: Wednesday 28th October

Time: 1pm

Rock Trust are Scotland’s youth-specific homelessness charity. The Rock Trust Housing First project supports care leavers aged 16- 25 who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in West Lothian. The Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) project operated as a 31-month pilot, starting in September 2017. It was the first in Europe and aimed to offer access to appropriate independent housing, provided through Almond Housing Association and West Lothian Council, alongside intensive, on-going support from project workers. This evaluation consisted of detailed monitoring data completed by project workers for nine young people, at two points in time: on moving into accommodation, and six months later. Secondly, in-depth interviews were conducted with six young people about their experience of the project. Thirdly, interviews (16 individual and 1 focus group) were conducted with project staff, the housing provider and other key professional stakeholders. This evaluation was commissioned and funded by the Housing First Europe Hub. It was undertaken by Imogen Blood & Associates, with the University of York.

Speakers

Deborah Quilgars, University of York

Deborah is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Housing Policy, University of York. She has 30 years experience of undertaking housing research, particularly in the areas of homelessness and housing support services. Along with Imogen Blood and Sarah Aldon, Deborah has recently completed the evaluation of the Rock Trust Housing First 4 Youth project; and is also currently evaluating a similar service in London for Centrepoint.

Imogen Blood

Imogen set up the independent social research consultancy, Imogen Blood & Associates (IBA) in 2009. A qualified social worker and former prison drug worker, Imogen has also held research posts at Nacro and the University of Salford. She is interested in multiple needs, strengths-based practice and supported housing. IBA works across housing and social care, and has a strong track record in relation to Housing First, including feasibility studies (Liverpool City Region, Conwy & Denbighshire), evaluations (Soha, Rock Trust) and policy reports (Implementing Housing First across England, Scotland and Wales for Crisis/ Homeless Link).

Please register here.

September Lunchtime Talk – Eoin O’Sullivan presenting his new book ‘Reimagining Homelessness’

Date: Wednesday 23rd of September
Time: 1pm

Speakers: Prof Eoin O’Sullivan (Trinity College, Dublin) presenting his new book ‘Reimagining Homelessness’ (Policy Press 2020)

Response: Fr Peter McVerry, SJ, founder of the Peter McVerry Trust and campaigner on homelessness

Using contemporary research, policy and practice examples, ‘Reimagining Homelessness’  uses the Irish experience to argue that we need to urgently reimagine homelessness as a pattern of residential instability and economic precariousness regularly experienced by marginal households. Bringing to light stark evidence, it proves that current responses to homelessness only maintain or exacerbate this instability rather than arrest it and provides a robust evidence base to reimagine how we respond to homelessness.

Please register here.

Friday 18th of September 2020– Launch of A Qualitative Study of LGBTQI + Youth Homelessness in Ireland

Focus Ireland in partnership with BeLonG to are delighted to invite you to an event to launch A Qualitative Study of LGBTQI+ Youth Homelessness in Ireland. This research study, commissioned by Focus Ireland with support from St. Stephens Green Trust, sought for the first time to make visible and give voice to the specificities of LGBTQI+ youth homelessness in Ireland, with a view to informing the development of policies and services to meet their needs. 22 richly textured, insightful and moving interviews conducted with LGBTQI+ young people provided valuable insights into the lives and experience of being LGBTQI+ and homeless in Ireland. Additionally, 14 interviews were conducted with key stakeholders including policymakers, service providers and advocates.

Speakers: Dr Aideen Quilty and Professor Michelle Norris

Respondents: Mike Allen (Director of Advocacy, Focus Ireland), Moninne Griffith (CEO, BeLonG To) and Chris O’Donnell (Safetynet Peer Worker and expert by experience)

About the speakers and authors of the study:
Dr Aideen Quilty is Associate Dean of Social Sciences and Director of Gender Studies at the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, University College Dublin. Aideen locates her undergraduate and graduate teaching as a form of critical civic practice, deepening understandings of cultural diversity and inclusion. Drawing on intersecting queer, feminist and spatial theories her research seeks to make visible and challenge homo/bi/transphobia across a range of structural and socio-cultural contexts.

Michelle Norris is Professor of Social Policy at the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, University College Dublin. Her teaching and research interests focus on housing policy and urban regeneration. She is an independent member of the National Economic and Social Council and chair of the board of the Housing Finance Agency which finances social housing in Ireland. Her latest book entitled Social Housing in Western Europe: The Micro Political Economy of Resilient and Fragile Systems will be published by Routledge in spring 2021.

If you wish to attend the event please register here.

Thursday 23rd of July 2020 – Youth Homelessness in the Dublin Region 2016–2018

Focus Ireland was delighted to welcome Clíodhna Bairéad to speak to a report she co-authored with Professor Michelle Norris (UCD) titled Youth Homelessness in the Dublin region: A profile of young, single emergency accommodation users in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This report falls within the scope of Clíodhna’s PhD thesis, funded by the Irish Research Council and Focus Ireland, titled: Homelessness as a Form of Statelessness among Single Homeless People in Dublin: an analysis of three years of administrative data on patterns of homeless accommodation service usage and entry, exit and re-entry from homelessness.
 
This report is the first to establish a quantitative understanding of the scope of youth homelessness in Ireland and marks the first of a new series of  Focus Ireland’s ‘Insights into Youth Homelessness’ reports which will inform effective responses to youth homelessness.

Joining us to discuss and respond to this important research were two leading international researchers and advocates in the field of youth homelessness, Melanie Redman (co-founder, President and CEO of A Way Home Canada) and Steve Gaetz (President and Director at the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness).

July Lunchtime Talk Wednesday 22nd of July – Housing After Care: Understanding Security and Stability through the Lenses of Liminality, Recognition, and Precarity

Focus Ireland was delighted to welcome Dr. Natalie Glynn (Research Officer and lecturer in the Institute for Political Science at the University of Tübingen, Germany) who spoke to a paper co-authored with Dr. Paula Mayock (Trinity College Dublin) from her PhD on the housing experiences of care leavers in Ireland. Professor Janet Boddy (University of Sussex) also joined us to provide some international commentary on the subject.

There is a well-documented association between histories of state care and housing stability and/or homelessness. This talk presented an analysis of the housing experiences of care leavers in Ireland based on data collected during a qualitative longitudinal study conducted in 2017-2018. Ten young men and six young women, with experience in residential, kinship, and non-kin foster care and who aged out of care in the previous year, were recruited at baseline and re-interviewed on two further occasions over a 12-month period. The presentation investigates care leavers’ experiences and understandings of housing stability and instability during the transition out of care through the lenses of liminality, Recognition theory, and precarity. This includes an exploration of how Irish policies and context combined to create precarious housing conditions for participants, which in turn had implications for their feelings of recognition as young people in need of care. In the context of a housing crisis and a government promoting private-market solutions to affordable housing, young people felt abandoned by the state to a fickle market with few long-term solutions to housing insecurity. Notably, being provided a ‘home’ led to feelings of being cared for and reduced feelings of susceptibility to a precarious housing market. The findings draw attention to the ways in which contingent and time-limited aftercare support were detrimental to young people’s sense of security and contributed to mobility in their transitions out of care.

Thursday 16th of July – Focus on Homelessness Volume II – Expenditure on Homeless Services

Speakers and respondents:
• Eoin O’Sullivan – Professor of Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin
• Michelle Norris – Professor of Social Policy, University College Dublin
• Mike Allen – Director of Advocacy, Focus Ireland
• Wayne Stanley – Head of Communications and Policy, Simon Communities of Ireland

Focus Ireland and the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin have collaborated for over a decade to bring high quality and up-to-date research on homelessness to a wider audience and into the core of public policy formation. This series, ‘Focus on Homelessness’ aims to build on the success of our research and our popular ‘Lunchtime Talks’ series, by making the now substantial body of data published by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government available in an accessible format.

The first volume of this series entitled Focus on Homelessness provided an overview of key trends in the number of households experiencing homelessness in Ireland in recent years, the number of entries into and exists from emergency accommodation, length of stay in emergency accommodation and the expenditure on these services. In the second volume we provide a more detailed description of expenditure data and some of the limitations of this data.

In this webinar, Professor Eoin O’Sullivan (Trinity College Dublin) presented on the data on expenditure on homeless services in this volume of Focus on Homelessness. Responses to this presentation came from Mike Allen (Focus Ireland), Michelle Norris (University College Dublin) and Wayne Stanley (Simon Communities of Ireland).
The report and a blog post which sets out the Focus Ireland analysis of this data are available here.

Wednesday 24th of June – Mothers Matter: Listening to the voices of women living in poverty and housing insecurity because of their care work

Speakers: Camille Loftus (Focus Ireland and TCD School of Social Work and Social Policy) and Fay White (Focus Ireland)
REGAL (Regaining Life for Precarious Women at Work) is a research project which focuses on women who are effectively excluded from the labour market and living in poverty as a consequence of the care work they do for children, family, etc. Using the Participatory Action Human Rights and Capability Approach (PAHRCA) methodology, REGAL aims to empower research participants to tell their own stories, and to propose solutions integrating the aims of the EU’s initiative on work life balance and Pillar of social rights, for adoption by employers, trade unions, governments. It is a five country study funded by the EU Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme. In Ireland, the research works with women who have been, or are, homeless. This seminar presented interim findings from this prescient piece of research, looking at how care work impacts on the lives of vulnerable women, as well as exploring co-created solutions to these issues.
Speaker bios:
Camille Loftus is a socio-economic researcher and consultant. Her primary interests are in the areas of poverty and inequality, particularly gender inequality, with a focus on redistribution and labour market exclusion. She has worked with a range of NGOs, private sector organisations, as well as government departments. She is a former ministerial advisor in the Departments of Health, and of Children and Youth Affairs. She currently lectures at TCD, and previously at NUIM, UCD and the IPA.
Fay White has been working with the Advocacy Team in Focus Ireland since 2017. Prior to that, Fay completed a BA in Sociology and Spanish and HDip in Social Policy in UCD. Her research and policy interests focus on youth homelessness, women’s homelessness and educational disadvantage.
A recording of the talk is available here

Thursday 11th of June – “Homelessness after Covid-19: transformation or back to ‘normal’?”

Homeless services have made major changes to protect people who are homeless during the Covid-19 emergency. As we emerge from lockdown, will we hold on to those gains and move to a new model in which housing first becomes the mainstream response? Or will we face a new wave of evictions and homelessness which will drive us back to crisis and emergency shelter?

In a recent letter to party leaders, Focus Ireland has set out some of key decisions that will determine which path we take. Now in a major webinar we began a process of discussion and learning about the challenges and opportunities ahead:

Chair: Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy, Focus Ireland

Speakers:
• Dr Austin O’Carroll, Inner City GP and Clinical Lead in the Covid-19 response in Dublin talked about the achievements of the last few months, the lessons they bring and how they can sustained into the future.
• Brendan Kenny, Assistant CEO, Dublin City Council, has led the highly regarded response of DRHE and Dublin City Council in response to the Covid-19 emergency. In his key role as head of the largest housing authority in Ireland, he is in a unique position to see the opportunities and challenges ahead.
• Freek Spinnewijn, Director of FEANTSA (the European umbrella organisation for homeless organisations) talked about how other major cities responded to the crisis and are thinking about the future.
There is a recording of this webinar available here.

Thursday 28th of May – Focus Ireland and Threshold joint seminar – “Avoiding a rent emergency after the Covid-19 pandemic”

Covid-19 has resulted in a sudden and unprecedented mass-unemployment event, with many of those unemployed living in the rental market. The moratorium on evictions has protected many tenants from immediate evictions during this public health crisis — but this is only a temporary reprieve.

As we move from the initial emergency phase, there is a clear risk that many renters will find themselves in arrears and may soon face evictions into homelessness in the absence of targeted policy interventions.

This seminar explored some of the implications of Covid-19 for those in the private rental market and identified the areas where an urgent policy response is required.

Speakers:
Dr Mary Murphy (Maynooth University)
Dr Barra Roantree (ESRI)
John-Mark McCafferty (Threshold)
A recording of the seminar is available here.

Wednesday 27th of May – Ending Homelessness? Comparing experiences in Finland, Denmark and Ireland

Speakers: Mike Allen (Focus Ireland) And Professor Eoin O’Sullivan (Trinity College Dublin)

In 2008, three small European countries published strategies to end homelessness. Only one succeeded. A recently published book explores why Finland is on its way to ending homelessness, Denmark made remarkable progress while Ireland saw homelessness soar to new heights. In this lunchtime talk, two of the authors of that study, Prof Eoin O’Sullivan and Mike Allen, told the story and set out the lessons for Ireland.

A recording of this talk is available here.

Lunchtime Webinar 22nd of April – Dr Austin O’Carroll – Making sense of street chaos: an ethnographic exploration of homeless people’s health service utilization

Homeless people have poor health and mortality indices. Despite this they make poor usage of health services. This study sought to understand why they use health services differently from the domiciled population. Ethnographic observations were conducted at several homeless services, in Dublin. This was supplemented with 47 semi-structured interviews with homeless people and two focus groups of homeless people and hospital doctors. In the first in a series of webinars, Dr Austin O’Carroll presented this research project, its findings and the implications for health service policy makers and providers in how they design and deliver accessible health services to homeless people.

Bio: Dr Austin O Carroll is an inner-city GP. He is founder of Safetynet and the North Dublin City GP training scheme, co-founder of GMQ Medical Services for Homeless People and GPCareForAll, and Clinical Lead for the homeless Covid-19 response.

A recording of the webinar is available to watch here

 

Lunchtime Talk Wednesday 19th of February 2020 – Many Hearts, No Homes – Voices from the Frontline of Homelessness – Dr Maria Quinlan & Patrick Bolger

This presentation focused on an initiative of South Dublin CYPSC and funded via the Quality and Capacity Building Initiative (QCBI), which aimed to explore and understand the needs and priorities of families experiencing homelessness within the South Dublin area.

This project is fundamentally a participatory co-researched endeavour which uses a variety of innovative, person-centred methodologies with both families who have experienced homelessness, and people who work on a day to day basis providing services to families who find themselves in this most vulnerable of situations. By using a method of participatory photography called photovoice which uses photographs, coupled with facilitated group dialogue and photo-captioning to give voice to people’s lived experience and to the stories behind the statistics. In total nineteen people participated in this project, submitting over 70 photographs to be included in this report. This report offers a number of key findings and provides an important policy contribution in the area of family homelessness with recommendations in the short-term and longer-term policy approaches.

About the Speakers:

Dr. Maria Quinlan is a collaborating research fellow at University College Dublin (UCD), and Head of Research at the Institute of Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy (IICP). Maria is a sociologist who specialises in the use of creative, person-centred research methods which aim to facilitate people in sharing their lived experience. She is passionate about putting the participant at the centre of the research process and using methods which aim to empower people to become co- researchers and to share their stories. Maria is a multidisciplinary researcher who uses a variety of innovative participatory action research methodologies, including photovoice and video-ethnography to explore how people experience their world. She was formerly Research Lead at the Applied Research for Connected Health Centre in UCD, where her research focused on the implementation of person and family-centred healthcare, with a particular emphasis on service quality improvement methods. She is the founder of the Pink Flower Company, a research consultancy which focuses on creating actionable insight regarding issues of equality and inclusion.

Patrick Bolger is a writer and visual artist who has over twenty years’ experience in the production of still and moving images. Patrick works with a range of high-profile national and international clients on photography and documentary projects. His work is ethnographically-informed, embedding qualitative life-course interview methodology to explore the lived experience of participants within his projects. He has collaborated with Maria on a variety of research projects which use both photovoice and video-ethnography methodologies, facilitating group discussion and guiding participants in the use of visual methods to find their voice and tell their stories. Patrick places connections, authenticity and trust at the centre of all creative output.

Lunchtime Talk Wednesday 11th of December – An Examination of Housing Histories among Families Experiencing Homelessness in Dublin – Alice Long and Letizia Gambi

In this presentation researchers Alice Long and Letizia Gambi discussed their respective studies using data from in-depth telephone surveys with a sample of 237 families who were on the Family Homeless Action Team caseload in January and February 2019. The first study is the latest research in Focus Ireland’s Insights into Family Homelessness series which confirms that families living in the private rented sector are continuing to bear the brunt of the deepening housing and homeless crisis. The report shows that the majority of families that became homeless had stable housing histories and 9-out-of-ten respondents had lived in their last stable home for over a year. The second study, a secondary analysis using the same data, informs a typology of family homelessness by residential patterns before entering emergency accommodation and tells a similar story of housing histories before entering homelessness.

About the Speakers:
Alice Emily Long – Alice has a BA with honours in Geography and Sociology and completed the MSc in Applied Social Research at Trinity College Dublin in 2018. Alice worked as an independent researcher on the Focus Ireland Insights into Family Homelessness Series 2019, Vol 2 (No 1), Family Homelessness in Dublin: Causes, Housing Histories and Finding a Home. Her master’s dissertation, a quantitative content analysis, examined Irish media representations of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean during the European Refugee Crisis. Alice’s research interests focus around social justice issues, in particular homelessness, housing, and migration.

Letizia Gambi – Letizia is originally from Bologna, Italy, where she graduated in Economics. She also completed a MSc in Applied Social Research at TCD. Interested in homelessness and housing policy matters, she joined Focus Ireland as a volunteer and independent researcher in the Advocacy Team in 2018. She engaged with both data analysis and drafting of the ‘Insights into Family Homelessness No 16 – Causes of Family Homelessness in the Dublin Region during 2016 and 2017’ report, and the most recent ‘Family Homelessness in Dublin: Causes, Housing Histories, and Finding a Home’. She is now working as a Policy Analyst.

Exploring Best Practice in Peer Research and Homelessness – Wednesday, 20th November 2019, The Richmond Education Centre, Smithfield, Dublin 7

Focus Ireland and the Housing Agency held a full-day event on Best Practice in Peer Research and Homelessness on the 20th November. For the first time in Ireland, this event brought together key actors across Europe who are actively engaging in peer research to share the nature of their work, innovations in peer research, challenges and opportunities. This participative event generated discussions around the challenges and benefits of peer research which will help us to inform the development of a publication on best practice in peer research in this area.

Speakers for the day included:

Keynote: Dr Mary Murphy, National University of Ireland, Maynooth (IE)
Dr Mary Murphy works as senior lecturer on the BA Politics and Active Citizenship in the Department of Sociology in Maynooth University. Her research interests include labour market, social security and housing policy, power and civil society, and gender. She has published widely in key journals and books (Towards a Second Republic (with P Kirby Pluto Press 2011) and The Irish Welfare State in the 21st Century (co edited with F Dukelow Palgrave 2016). A contributor to national policy debate, she was a member of the National Expert Advisory Group on Taxation and Social Welfare 2011-2014 and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission 2013-2017. In 2019 she was appointed by President M.D. Higgins to the Council of State.

Martin Burrows, Director of Research and Campaigns, Groundswell (UK)
Martin joined Groundswell in April 2014 so he could follow his passion for peer research and participatory practice. He oversees Groundswell’s Insight and Action work, a radical grassroots approach to discovering and sharing insight into the health inequalities faced by people experiencing homelessness in London, and crucially to develop achievable solutions to reduce health inequalities for homeless people. Previously Martin has worked for various homelessness organisations, at home and abroad, including Crisis, Broadway, Homeless Link and Casa Ioana (Bucharest).

Dr Nienke Boesveldt, Utrecht University, (NE)
Dr Nienke Boesveldt works at the research group Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at Utrecht University. Dr. Boesveldt’s research interests include vulnerable groups, homelessness, governance, public (mental) health, interventions, social policy, social innovation, social economy and comparative studies. Dr. Boesveldt has led several research projects working with peer researchers including a recent study on homelessness and mental health care.

Jade Ward, York University, (UK)
Jade Ward works as a Research and Participation Assistant at the Social Policy Research Unit of York University and has been involved in several projects pertaining to supporting young people making the transition to Independence from care with a focus on homeless prevention. Prior to her role in the University of York Jade worked for a national charity where she was responsible for managing young people’s participation across several projects and as well as contributing to peer research studies as interviewer and interview training facilitator.

Focus Ireland (IE)
Focus Ireland has been developing a programme of peer research for several years and employs a team of three peer researchers to assist with their monitoring and evaluation work which included research projects relating to tenancy sustainment and satisfaction levels among long-term housing tenants.

Lunchtime Talk Wednesday 13th November – Emergency homeless shelter use in the Dublin region 2012–2016: Utilizing a cluster analysis of administrative data

Speaker: Dr Richard Waldron, Queens University Belfast

This discussion drew on data from a national homelessness services database (PASS system) to examine the patterns of emergency accommodation use by the homeless population in Dublin City. The paper applies a k-means cluster analysis to determine different subgroups of Dublin’s homeless population (n = 12,734) and analyses their rate of movement through homeless services between the years 2012 and 2016. Results for Ireland show patterns similar to those reported in the US, Canada and Denmark, where a small number of chronic users of homeless accommodation account for a disproportionately large share of resources (i.e. 50% of total bed nights). Importantly, there is also significant demographic variance between differing sub-groups of homeless services users. The findings have implications for the operation of emergency homeless accommodation in Ireland and, in particular, the targeting of interventions and the re-directing of resources away from emergency accommodation responses towards a more effective emergency accommodation system for all stakeholders.

About the Speaker: Dr Richard Waldron is a Lecturer in Urban Planning in the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests relate to the intersection of urban planning policy, housing markets and strategies of urban economic development. His doctoral research (2014) examined the social and economic consequences of the Irish property market collapse and mortgage arrears crisis. Dr Waldron’s work has been funded by the Irish Research Council and the Urban Studies Foundation. Alongside Dr Declan Redmond (University College Dublin), he has formed key research partnerships on the issue of homelessness with Dublin City Council and the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive.

Lunchtime talk Wednesday 16th of October – Understanding the Effect of Rent Pressure Zones on Rental Price Inflation in Ireland – Dr Conor O’Toole, ESRI

Speaker: Dr Conor O’Toole, Senior Research Officer, ESRI.

Respondent: Wayne Stanley, Head of Policy and Communications, Simon Communities of Ireland.

Presentation details: The presentation provided insight into recent ESRI research commissioned by the RTB on the change in rental prices since the introduction of rent pressure zones.

The research attempts to quantify whether the introduction of the rules has been associated with a decline in rental price inflation since 2016.

About the Speaker: Dr Conor O’Toole is a Senior Research Officer at the Economic and Social Research Institute where he works in the areas of banking, financing and the housing market.

He previously held the position of Manager – Real-Financial Linkages Team and Senior Economist at the Financial Stability Division of the Central Bank of Ireland. He is currently a member of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Real Estate Markets Advisory Committee and the CSO Census Advisory Group. Conor was a member of the European Central Bank’s Macroprudential Policy Group Taskforce on Operationalising Macroprudential Research. Prior to joining the Central Bank, Conor worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the ESRI,  a PhD researcher at the United Nations University —World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) in Helsinki, Finland and as an economist for London Economics and Indecon Economic Consultants.

His research has been published in a range of international journals including the Review of Finance, Journal of Corporate Finance, Journal of Banking and Finance, and the Journal of Housing Economics. Conor is currently co-editor of the ESRI’s Quarterly Economic Commentary.”

Lunchtime talk Wednesday 25th of September – ‘Making a home’: Tenancy sustainment following homelessness – Dr Leonie Boland, University of Plymouth

This presentation drew on Leonie’s PhD study which explored the experiences of individuals as they transition from using homelessness services into their own accommodation. Interviews using reflexive photography were carried out with 35 people from three cities across Ireland and the UK. ‘Making a home’ was the core process identified, which followed a procedural moving in stage. The findings indicate how occupation, i.e. the everyday activities that we do, contribute to tenancy sustainment, suggesting occupational science may provide a useful lens to inform services aimed at increasing tenancy sustainment.

About the Speaker: Dr Boland worked as an occupational therapist for over 10 years with people experiencing homelessness in Dublin. In 2018, she attained a PhD at the University of Plymouth, UK – her study was entitled ‘Transitioning from homelessness into a sustained tenancy: what enables a successful tenancy? (The Moving on project)’. Since then she has worked as a postdoctoral researcher to further develop her PhD findings and model an intervention for tenancy sustainment, in collaboration with stakeholders.

Tuesday 10th of September – Launch of ‘Homelessness in the Classroom – A Resource for Primary Schools’

Focus Ireland and the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) worked collaboratively to produce a guidance resource for primary school teachers and principals who are supporting students and families experiencing homelessness.

This document aims to highlight the reality of homelessness and its impact on children’s education as well as sharing some good practice already happening in schools.

The document was launch in St Joseph’s National School, Bonnybrook, Dublin 17 jointly by Focus Ireland and the INTO.

Lunchtime talk Wednesday 26th of June – “Youth Homelessness: A Roadmap to Prevention” – Melanie Redman (A Way Home Canada) and Dr Steve Gaetz (Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and Homeless Hub)

There is a growing recognition across the world that effective preventive measures should have a role to play in how we respond to homelessness.  In this presentation, Stephen Gaetz and Melanie Redman discuss how the prevention of youth homelessness is being conceptualized and put in to practice in Canada.  Through the Roadmap for the Prevention of Youth Homelessness, they provide a definition and typology of youth homelessness prevention, populated with practical examples from around the world.  From there, they moved to how this shift to prevention is being operationalized through their Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab, and how this work nurtures strong interconnections between research, policy and practice.

Thursday 13th of June – Report Launch of “Family Homelessness in Dublin: Causes, Housing Histories and the Search for a New Home” 

This new report on the key drivers and dynamics of family homelessness details the findings from surveys with 237 families residing in emergency accommodation in Dublin.

The data shows for a majority of families, the root cause of their homelessness is due to having to leave a private rented accommodation and the most commonly-cited reason is due to landlords withdrawing their property from the market. The majority of families who are experiencing homelessness report notably stable housing histories in the past with lengthy and successful tenancies in the rental sector. However, when trying to look for alternative accommodation after receiving a notice of termination from their landlord, families are at high risk of housing precariousness for sometimes lengthy periods.

Lone mothers, migrants (parents originally born outside of Ireland), lone parents and members of the Travelling community face a disproportionate risk to family homelessness. While a majority of families are actively attempting to exit homelessness, the difficulties in sourcing affordable and stable private rented accommodation can be profound.

This report marks the latest publication of Focus Ireland ‘Insights into Family Homelessness Series’ which seeks to inform design of delivery of services working with families at risk or experiencing homelessness, but also, to inform the wider debate on family homelessness.

The full report is available here and the executive summary is available here.

Wednesday 17th of April: Last Resort: Vulnerabilities, Resilience and Quality of Life in a Homeless Shelter Population – Joe Finnerty, Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork

Joe Finnerty presented findings from Last Resort, a study based on 69 one-to-one interviews conducted over an eighteen-month period with 24 men and 12 women staying at Cork Simon’s emergency shelter, using a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection methods.

The research report identifies respondents’ routes into homelessness, explores some of the vulnerabilities implicated in these routes, and how these vulnerabilities were exacerbated by precarity in rental housing and labour markets. The research also highlights how their experiences of stays in emergency accommodation have compounded their vulnerabilities, particularly around social exclusion and stigma, morale and aspirations for the future, and the challenges of finding independent accommodation.

The report is available here.

Wednesday 20th of March: The Family Foster Care System in Ireland – Professor Robbie Gilligan, Trinity College Dublin

92% of children in care in Ireland are placed in families, making Ireland a world leader in the use of family placement for children in care. This presentation explored some of the key features of the Irish foster care system. It also reflected on the Irish story of de-institutionalisation – how the care system moved from heavy reliance on residential care to one so dominated by foster care. The implications emerging from this paper will offer lessons to the homeless sector – a sector which is expanding rapidly in terms of the number of congregate facilities rather than undergoing a similar process of de-institutionalisation seen in foster care and other areas of social policy.

Wednesday 27th February 2019 – Homeless young people making sense of ‘family’ and family relationships: Implications for service provision and practice – Dr Paula Mayock & Sarah Parker, Trinity College Dublin

This talk examined the meanings attached to ‘family’ and family relationships by homeless youth based on selected findings from a qualitative longitudinal study. It focused on their meaning-making processes with particular attention to the ways in which ‘family’ is produced and (re)negotiated in their lives over time. Four themes were presented – family as reliable and supportive; family as interrupted and ‘broken’; family as fragile and elusive; family as fluid and ambiguous – revealing the unfolding nature of young people’s constructions of family and family relationships. The enduring impact of separation, dislocation and conflict on how young people ‘make sense’ of familial experiences was discussed and we concluded with the practice implications arising from the findings.

Focus Ireland set up its mediation services in collaboration with Tusla in response to previous research undertaken by Paula Mayock, whose research identified family conflict with parents and carers as key factors leading to a pattern of young people moving in and out of home and in many cases leading to long-term homelessness. To date, the mediation services have been very successful in helping young people and their families resolve conflict, precipitating a return home for those young people who had presented to services and preventing presentations in other cases where this was a likely outcome if no intervention had occurred.

Thursday 7th January 2019 – Focus Ireland Research Launch: Brighter Futures for Care Leavers

A Consultation on Outcomes and Aftercare for Young People Leaving Care in Ireland.

Jo Dixon, Jade Ward and Mike Stein were commissioned by Focus Ireland to undertake a consultation with care experienced young people and aftercare workers to explore the scope for developing an aftercare framework to support outcomes and services provision.

The messages and findings that emerged from the consultation with young people and aftercare workers provides a snapshot of aftercare experiences and support and highlight some of the strengths and the gaps in aftercare preparation and support for young people leaving care in Ireland.

This study is available here.

Thursday 13th December 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. The abridged report is available here.

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.

2019 National Conference

Ending Youth Homelessness: Practice, Policy and Campaigning

Focus Ireland’s 2019 National Conference took place in the RDS on Thursday 24th of October. The theme of this year’s conference was Ending Youth Homelessness: Practice, Policy and Campaigning.

Speakers and chairs include:

Keynote Speaker: Dr Paula Mayock, Trinity College Dublin
Dillon Nolan, Current Masters Student  Maynooth University with lived experience of residential care and housing insecurity
Ciara Carty, Focus Ireland National Director of Services
Cliodhna Bairead, School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, UCD
Niall Keane, Focus Ireland Services Manager
Kate Polson, CEO The Rock Trust Scotland
Neil Forsyth, Focus Ireland Youth Services Manager
James Doorley, Deputy Director, National Youth Council of Ireland
Lisa O’Brien, Youth Representative on FEANTSA Administrative Council
Mike Allen, Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy

The full schedule for the day is available here.

2018 Annual 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.

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.