Lord Mayor Eibhlín Byrne knows what she is talking about when she calls for the abolition of the Homeless Agency (The Irish Times, December 16th). This is something Trust has advocated for some time. Her description of Dublin’s homeless services as “chaotic” is fair comment and underlines the very urgent need for reform. We have been involved in providing frontline health and social services for people who are homeless for over 30 years, and feel compelled to strongly endorse her courageous stand.
Reform in this instance need not cost extra money. As the Lord Mayor has pointed out, we have 1,000 employed in homeless services to provide help to 2,714 people, a situation that rightly may shock and disappoint many, especially as the problem is getting worse! However, it comes as no surprise to us as we have long condemned the way in which services are run, and more importantly, the management culture which seems to ordain that the services are meant to serve the managers and their careers rather than society’s most marginalised people.
How did we get into this appalling situation in Dublin, with major questions about the way in which increasingly scarce resources appear to be wasted? Over the last few years, as the services became “professionalised”, people in frontline caring roles have seen their status and influence decline as that of the increasing number of professional managers increased. The final straw for us came recently when one very well known manager visited us in Trust. When I introduced him to somebody who was homeless he confessed it was the first time he had actually met a homeless person.
If we are serious about tackling homelessness, the greatest resources must be invested in frontline caring, with substantial cuts in the management and duplication of services, and in areas such as research and report production, which have become a minor industry.
– Yours, etc,
Director Co-Founder, Trust, Bride Road, Dublin 8.