Homeless Services & Housing Webinar - 30th April 2020

The ICSH is hosting a series of webinars for our member housing associations during the COVID-19 crisis to provide updates on the latest issues and developments impacting on our member organisations' work.

Our 30th April Webinar was specifically for our Homeless Services & Housing members. This ICSH webinar looked at specific challenges, learnings and experiences of members to date, sharing emerging best practice on how homeless services are responding to the crisis. Speakers included Martin Hannigan from Dublin Simon Dublin Simon Community, Martin O'Connor from Cope Galway COPE Galway, Pat Doyle, ICSH President and CEO of The Peter McVerry Trust Peter McVerry Trust and Lisa Marmion from Safe Ireland Safe Ireland

Our contributors spoke highly of their engagement with Safetynet, the primary health care service that is providing testing of suspected #Covid19 cases, and spoke positively of their experiences moving clients from Supported Temporary Accommodation (STA) to freed-up hotel accommodation, student housing and private sector accommodation to facilitate social distancing and isolation where required.

Issues over early sourcing of #PPE were raised. However, the effectiveness of interagency working and the pivotal role of in-house clinical staff alongside GP and nursing support over the past two months were highlighted.

Challenges for member organisations have included dealing with staff reductions (to facilitate staff presenting with Covid-19 symptoms to self isolate), as well as trying to ensure clients were adhering to guidelines around social distancing. The fact that homeless services staff are experienced at dealing with complex issues amongst their client base has also meant that the sector has been very effective in responding to the pandemic.

In relation to domestic violence refuges, Lisa Marmion from Safe Ireland referred to the pre-Covid-19 limited capacity of Safe Ireland's member organisations (at less than 33% of the Council of Europe recommended capacity), and said that the sector has not been facilitated with social isolation pathways. She said they were currently working with DEASP on rent supplement measure for clients and she also highlighted the critical fact that victims of domestic violence in refuges are not counted in the monthly homelessness figures.