Snobbery and the housing crisis | The Irish Times 16th October 2018

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole’s article “Snobbery is at the root of the housing crisis” raises a very important issue and not just about housing.

Sadly snobbery is alive and well in society and it is good to be reminded of that fact. Education in the broadest sense and good example is the first step to addressing it.

Attitudinal change takes time.

Objections to proposed locations of social housing are often led by elected representatives and this gives oxygen to snobbery and social exclusion.

Your columnist writes: “The way to avoid turning public housing estates into ghettoes is not to stop building them. It is to make social housing available to a much wider range of people and to allocate it in a way that ensures that the communities that inhabit it are varied”

It is plain to see the wisdom of those words. Surely those in a position of responsibility to address the housing problem should reflect on his words and lead by example. It would benefit the wider society. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Bride Road,

Dublin 8.

Garda centenary book raises €33k for homeless charity | Irish Examiner 25th September 2018

Homelessness champion Alice Leahy said a cheque for €33,000 raised by gardaí through the sale of a commemorative book will be of “enormous” benefit to her organisation.

She said all the money would go straight into the services provided at the Alice Leahy Trust, which include medical assistance, washing facilities, and clothing for homeless people, most of them rough sleepers.

The money has been raised through the sale of Pearse Street 100, a 180-page coffee-table book chronicling the centenary of Pearse Street Garda Station, Dublin.

The idea was the brainchild of Superintendent Joe Gannon, district commander of Pearse Street station, and the book was researched and edited by Garda Stephen Moore.

We are a small organisation, we don’t ask for money, and get no State funding,” said Ms Leahy, who has worked with the homeless for 40 years. “€33,000 is an enormous amount for us and will go directly towards our services, and particularly that it’s coming from the Gardaí, and Supt Gannon came up with the idea, makes it extra special.

She called for a previous student garda placement scheme, which she ran in the trust before the embargo on recruitment, to be resurrected.
Ms Leahy said such schemes enable gardaí to “meet people on the street”, understand what their lives are like and the “hugely complex needs” that they have.

“I am very anxious that that would happen again,” said Ms Leahy, who recently won a human rights award at UCC.

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, who attended the handover of the cheque, said the book was a great initiative by gardaí in the Dublin South Central division.

It demonstrates once again the concern Garda members have in protecting and supporting vulnerable people,” he said.

Chief Superintendent Lorraine Wheatley said: “For four decades Alice Leahy has provided invaluable assistance, care, and kindness to some of the most vulnerable people in our community in Dublin city. Gardaí in Dublin South Central are proud of our long association with the trust.”

Alice Leahy receives international human rights award for her work | The Irish Times 3rd September 2018

‘An extraordinary nurse-led service that offers respite, shelter, recognition’ to homeless

Homelessness campaigner Alice Leahy has received an international human rights award for her work over four decades in assisting the homeless and rough sleepers in Dublin.

She and Swiss nurse Miriam Kasztura, who has worked for many years with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in conflict situations, are the 2018 recipients of the Human Rights and Nursing Awards.

Presented by the International Care Ethics Observatory, at the Catherine McAuley school of nursing and midwifery, University College Cork, the awards were announced during the 19th International Nursing Ethics Conference there.

Alice Leahy is a former nurse and midwife who in 1975 co-founded Trust, now the Alice Leahy Trust, which provides health and related services to homeless people. She is a former chair of the Sentence Review Group and a former Irish Human Rights Commissioner.

Citation

“Her daily toil centres around the Alice Leahy Trust. She has made it into an extraordinary nurse-led service that offers respite, shelter, recognition, advice, fresh clothes, warm showers, healthcare and friendship to the men and women who live and sleep outdoors in Ireland’s capital city,” read the citation for her award.

It said “she fights their corner. She challenges the status quo. She queries orthodoxies. She highlights hidden abuses. Where others see problems, Alice sees people. She is on their side every time.”

Her memoir, The Stars are our Only Warmth, is due for publication next month.

Humanitarian emergencies

Ms Kasztura has worked with MSF on humanitarian emergencies in Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and South Sudan to name some. She is now a member of MSF’s board of directors.

Attendance at the Cork conference included nursing and care ethics scholars from Canada, the US, Brazil, Japan, Australia and many countries in Europe. They presented papers on nursing and care practices involving older people and dementia care, end-of-life care and acute care.

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