independent

Thursday 22 June 2017

Focus Ireland continues to change lives in Sligo

Jessica Farry

Next month Focus Ireland is set to mark ten years of challenging homelessness and changing lives in Sligo through its work providing services and housing in the county since 2007.

The milestone comes as the charity reported a 50% rise in the number of people using its services in Sligo last year.

Focus Ireland is now set to hold a special "Stand Up To Homelessness" event on May 5th to mark this decade of service in Sligo and is inviting people to sign up to paddle board across Lough Gill and down the Garavogue River.

Mary Jameson of Focus Ireland Sligo said: "Focus Ireland opened its doors in 69 John St., Sligo this time ten years ago in 2007. Now in 2017 we are still making an impact by supporting people at risk of losing their homes and those who are homeless. Our work has touched many lives over the years and we wanted to stage a different type of event that will act to celebrate the great successes over the years.

"The impact of our work has been really positive and has helped many people to secure a home while we have also managed to prevent many other people from becoming homeless in the first place. We want people to join us to "Stand up to Homelessness" and say that it is wrong for anyone to be homeless."

Focus Ireland has teamed up with North West Adventures Tours and all equipment and instructors will be provided for the event. The cost for this is €40.00.

The numbers accessing Focus Ireland's services in Sligo jumped by 50 per cent last year, with the majority (172 people) looking for advice or information on accommodation options. Focus Ireland also has 14 apartments in Sligo town for single people along with accommodation for two families. Focus Ireland also manage 23 apartments on behalf of the local authority in Sligo town.

"The majority of those were looking for advice on housing. A lot of people want to know their rights with regards rents, arrears and generally trying to get a handle on things before it's too late," said Roisin McLoughlin, Project Worker with Focus Ireland in Sligo.

"I think it's positive that people know the service is there. In previous years people were waiting until they were homeless to get in touch with us whereas now they're doing it when they are worried it might become the case," she added.

"The rental markets are the main cause of this increase. There is very little housing, and it's hard to be in the running for a house.

"The problem now is that landlords are selling up, giving properties to their families and that's the case a lot of the time, more so than in the past," said Ms. McLoughlin.

The charity said that it works to tackle and prevent homelessness in Sligo in partnership with Sligo County Council, Social Services and other bodies. Focus Ireland has been one of the key organizations working on the Cranmore Estate regeneration project since 2008. Focus Ireland's tenancy support services have worked closely with families and people in the estate and this work has had a very positive impact.

For more information about the Focus Ireland 10th Anniversary "Stand Up To Homelessness" Paddle Board event please contact Focus Ireland Sligo office on 071 - 91 49974/071 -9149970 and email: sligoservices@focusireland.ie

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