Homeless hostel and local consultation | The Irish Times, November 15, 2019

Sir, – Independent Cllr Mannix Flynn has said it is unacceptable that Ireland’s largest homeless hostel was being opened without any consultation with the business or residential community (“State’s largest homeless hostel to open over café”, News, November 14th). It appears to me that this is the way of doing things in the Ireland of today. The powers that be, that is those who make the decisions, then often wonder why there are complaints, and indeed very often legitimate ones. In this area where we work there is a huge concentration of services for people who are homeless.

From our long experience of working in the field, smaller units of accommodation appear to be much more beneficial, with emphasis on quality rather than on quantity. Many of the isolated people we meet who sleep rough don’t like crowded accommodation, and they are likely to continue sleeping rough, in spite of the efforts of many hard-working people.

All in this country are only too well aware of the lack of housing, but it is surely time that a broader, more inclusive debate takes place around homelessness.

Currently it appears from what we see in the media that decisions are made behind closed doors, and this is not particularly helpful.

A little bit of common sense would indeed be helpful to ensure we avoid the blame game that we have now become so familiar with. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

Suicide and bereavement | The Irish Times 18th September 2019

Sir, – Patsy McGarry writes: “But someone, somewhere must address the appalling aftermath of suicide.”

These few words reflect those said by so many people too often ashamed or even afraid to say how they feel in the aftermath of the suicide of a loved one.

Acknowledging this fact would lead to much-needed discussion on the topic. This could only be helpful to the many people grieving in silence, and constantly asking themselves, why!– Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

Understanding homelessness | The Irish Times 1st August 2019

Sir, – Sorcha Pollak, in writing about the death of Polish man Michal Wasikiewicz, highlighted some of the issues faced by people who become homeless and also the problems faced by people attempting to meet their needs (“‘Family and friends keep asking me when his funeral will be held’”, News, July 29th).

It clearly highlights what homelessness as opposed to houselessness means. This is an issue that is rarely discussed or indeed understood in the current debate around homelessness. Families of people who become homeless can be challenged and often made to feel they are not doing enough.

The pressure on agencies at times to get personal information from people can easily tread on people’s rights and sometimes push people further away. People have a right to live the life they choose to live, even if choosing “a road less travelled”, which can unfortunately mean often their families are left with a lot of unanswered questions. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

‘Professionalism’ and NGOs | The Irish Times 20th July 2019

Sir, – Simon Gordon’s letter on “Education and ‘professionalism’” raises a very important issue (July 18th). He has focused on education, when in the past “professionalism was associated with high standards”. This of course is true in so many other important areas of Irish life. The word “professional” is being abused and often conveniently misunderstood in so many areas of crucial importance to the lives of so many people. Health and social care, poverty and social exclusion come to mind when people with creative ideas can face enormous challenges when questioning some of the new models coming on stream. “Professionalism” at times amounts to “ticking boxes”, with questionable outcomes.

The skill-sets and experience of many dedicated and hard-working people are often undervalued and not appreciated. For example, those spending essential time with vulnerable people needing that time can find themselves being accused of “wasting time with people” and more importantly of being “unprofessional”. This is an issue that has now seeped into the NGO sector with emphasis on “best practice”, with at times serious consequences. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.