Saturday 21 April 2018

A lost generation: nearly 3,000 children without a place to call home

June Tinsley of Barnados says more effort is required
June Tinsley of Barnados says more effort is required

Ian Begley

Almost 8,000 people across the country were registered as homeless in June, including 2,895 children, damning new figures show.

The newly released statistics from the Department of Housing show the number of adults without a home grew from 4,922 in May to 5,036 in June.

Of these, 1,365 families were provided with emergency accommodation, an increase of 53 compared to the previous month. The number of homeless children also increased by 118. Despite the rise, the Department of Housing says progress is being made moving families out of hotels and B&Bs. The figures were released yesterday afternoon, ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

Responding to the increase, Focus Ireland claims the Government is taking "little action".

"The number of adults, the number of children and the number of families have all increased and reached new record highs," a spokesperson for the housing charity said.

"This is not evidence of a strategy that is working, it is evidence of a Government which is taking too little action, too slowly."

Barnardos head of advocacy, June Tinsley, also responded, saying: "Yet again we see an upward trend in the numbers of children and families experiencing homelessness. While we acknowledge the reduction in the number of families being accommodated in hotels and B&Bs since March, month-on-month little progress has been achieved.

"In May, 647 families were in such accommodation and in June this figure had fallen to 638. This demonstrates that the number of families entering homelessness remains higher than those exiting. A net decrease of just nine families is extremely disappointing and disheartening," she said.

Ms Tinsley added that each day in Barnardos services across Ireland she sees the impact that homelessness is having on children.

"We watch the mental and emotional well-being of children deteriorate as their hopes of escaping homelessness fade. We meet mothers and fathers acutely aware that their children are experiencing a childhood deprived of play because their entire home is a hotel room.

"We see the physical impacts of not being able to access adequate nutritious meals due to the transient nature of homeless accommodation," she said.

Sinn Féin's housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin accused the department of "deliberately trying to bury bad news on homelessness by releasing the June homeless figures late on the Friday afternoon of a bank holiday."

"It is an absolute disgrace that the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy and his Department have published the June homeless figure late on the Friday afternoon of a bank holiday weekend. These figures should have been published last week. The department has had the data for several weeks," he said.

"The minister and his department are deliberately trying to bury bad news by releasing the June figures on the afternoon of a bank holiday."

Meanwhile, the HSE also published its official waiting list figures for July, 2017 - also right before the bank holiday weekend.

The number of people on hospital waiting lists has increased by 9,527, with over 500,000 people awaiting treatment at the end of July.

Figures released from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) show there were 493,780 patients waiting for outpatient appointments last month and 86,111 waiting for inpatient surgery or day care procedures.

The inpatient waiting list has also grown slightly compared to June, a difference of 93.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News