Bureaucracy dehumanises | Irish Examiner 12th July 2018

Like your columnist, Michael Clifford, I listened to ‘Noah’ on the radio show, Liveline, recently. Clifford’s (Irish Examiner, July 7) article should be widely read in the area of public service delivery and the NGO sector. The red tape and bureaucracy blocking access to services is breath-taking. This labelling of people, and the use of the language of consumerism, is widespread and clearly linked to funding.

Agencies that get grant aid and State agencies use the same language. This further alienates people and service providers can be lulled into thinking they have done something. We all need to be aware of the use of language and to understand its power and effect on vulnerable people. Many people charged with delivery of service see no other way of doing things. This is what they have been taught to ensure boxes are ticked. Regularly, I answer the phone to be informed that the caller has a ‘client’. You have a ‘person’, I say. Then follows a long silence, before attempts to point out that the ‘client’ is a ‘person’, a human being in need of a service. This issue needs to be addressed urgently to ensure that people are not denied a service.

Alice Leahy Director of Services Alice Leahy Trust Bride Road Dublin 8

Children’s mental health needs | Irish Independent 15th June 2018

A report by Oberstown Children’s Detention Centre was referred to by Lena Timoney, head of Care Services, on ‘Morning Ireland’ (June 14).

The report found 52pc of young people were identified as having mental health needs.

A multi-agency approach was being explored to address how best to deal with this very real concern.

Multi-agency discussions and co-operation are crucial and much more productive when people who are working on the ground are involved.

From our experience of working on the ground, in the field of homelessness since 1975, we can attest to this.

The mental health needs of our young people will grow unless there is a real commitment to change.

Appropriate planning and adequate funding must be made available, sooner rather than later, if we are to make any progress.

Alice Leahy Director of Services, Alice Leahy Trust

It shouldn’t take a ‘snow event’ to highlight homeless problems | Irish Independent 7th March 2018

People from all sections of the community throughout the land worked tirelessly night and day to ensure no stone was left unturned during the “snow event”.

All major events should be followed by a period of reflection with questions posed. From our hands-on work for more than 40 years with people who are homeless we have a number of concerns. Why was there such surprise that a huge number of people presented for emergency beds, not on the “system” and not known to the many outreach teams? This came as no surprise to many of us working in the field.

Increasing numbers of people, mainly young men who never thought they would end up homeless, now find themselves on the streets. We know there are people hidden away in squats, cars, bushes, tents etc, because they call to us daily – many coming from outside this jurisdiction.

Some feel the pressure to conform or fit in, but wish to remain private and therefore are unable to access accommodation as a consequence.

The challenges some pose have been downplayed. Building relationships with people requires a lot of time and understanding.

Sometimes the only way society can cope with challenging behaviour is by locking people away in prison or psychiatric institutions. A number of people were sectioned last week “for their own safety”. Sectioning someone has huge implications. Our nation’s history of dealing with challenging people/behaviour in the recent past has been well documented and condemned widely.

his could be repeated if a broad-based debate does not take place around people’s rights in this area. There are many who have great difficulty coping with life, and some people have mental health issues. Other people clearly have a different way of viewing the world and that should be respected. Is it ever possible to protect people from themselves?

Alice Leahy Director of services,
Alice Leahy Trust,
Bride Road,
Dublin 8