Thursday 23 May 2019

Sonas moves out of building early

The vacant property on Fitzwilliam Road.
The vacant property on Fitzwilliam Road.

Myles Buchanan

Wicklow County Council has already taken ownership of the former Sonas building on Fitzwilliam Road in Wicklow town and intends for it to be run as a family hub for homelessness.

Last year, the domestic violence charity Sonas announced the service provided on Fitzwilliam Road would be phased out by mid-2019. At the time, seven women and their families were being accommodated.

However, Sonas have pulled out of the building earlier than expected and Wicklow County Council has already started the tendering process to run a hub for homeless families which will operate out of the building.

'Sonas pulled out earlier than expected and Wicklow County Council has taken ownership of the property,' said Cllr John Snell.

'The plan is to run a service for homeless families from the building. It's a much-needed service considering the number of families presenting themselves as homeless each week in Wicklow. An announcement over who will run the service is expected to be made soon.'

Sonas described the reasons for phasing out the Wicklow service as 'logistical' and initially intended to cease all services by June.

Sonas CEO Fiona Ryan said: 'We have endeavoured to provide as much notice as possible to everyone concerned and kept them informed of developments through the process.'

The service Sonas provided in Wicklow was a post-crisis accommodation-based service, usually presented to women who have previously been in refuge and which is offered up to 18 months on a transitional basis.

'With the closure of the accommodation element of the service, we have offered to support clients, if they require such support, on an outreach basis around their domestic violence support needs for a period as well as linking them with the other domestic violence support service in the county which also offers outreach,' added Ms Ryan. 'Our understanding is that clients that were availing of Sonas services are engaging with Wicklow County Council around accommodation. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to provide supports to victims of domestic abuse over the past five years since we first set up a service in Wicklow. We want to take the opportunity to say thank you to all those who supported the service during those five years.'

Sonas moved into the building in 2013. Previously the premises was to open in 2004 as a refuge for abused women and their children to be operated by Suaimhneas. However, the service never officially opened and the premises fell into a state of disrepair.

Wicklow People