The Homeless Experience Training Day

TRUST sees homelessness as a complex problem to which there are no easy solutions. While housing provides an answer for some, for others it may merely aggravate the situation, if other problems are not addressed.

Statutory and voluntary workers and members of the public who come into contact with people who are homeless are sometimes overwhelmed by the difficulties, and find themselves at times frustrated by the apparent lack of resources and solutions. People who are homeless equally become frustrated when trying to avail of both services and understanding.

TRUST has found from experience that acknowledging the mutual difficulties, being aware of the services and networking can help.

For this reason, and in response to numerous requests from a wide cross-section of sources for more information, and perhaps reassurance, TRUST became involved in the compilation of a one-day, stand-alone programme about homelessness called “The Homeless Experience”. The hope is that this programme will in some small way contribute to the understanding of the problem of homelessness, support a climate which would have people who are homeless treated with dignity, and, in some cases, act as a prevention or helpful intervention tool.

The programme methodology is participative.

The Homeless Experience is a TRUST initiative, which is a one-day resource programme for service providers in statutory and voluntary organisations at national or local level. The original pack was a collaboration between Alice Leahy, Director of TRUST; Miriam Flynn, Area Community Officer, Dublin Corporation (now Dublin City Council) and Anne Dempsey, Writer and Trainer. Financial assistance and practical support was also given by Dublin Corporation (now D.C.C.)

The programme is aimed at individuals and organisations who want to deepen their understanding of the issues relating to homelessness. Many who come in contact with people who are homeless have concerns that need to be explored and understood, and this provides a forum for this process to help focus individuals and organisations on their responses and possible interventions.

This programme was piloted with a group of statutory, voluntary and community workers before finalisation, and an assessment took place after each training day.

To date, the Training Day has been attended by: statutory and voluntary personnel including prison officers, gardai, community workers, nurses, community welfare officers, local authority staff in Dublin and other areas, students and concerned citizens.

Within the terms of this programme being homeless is defined as:
Sleeping rough or living in a hostel, or living in a bed / breakfast accommodation or living temporarily with family / friends without having a home of one’s own. This definition also includes those people living in rented or local authority accommodation who are vulnerable and at risk of becoming ‘homeless’ again.

Arising from this definition, a core philosophy of this programme is that being homeless is more than a lack of accommodation. Both the causes and effects of homelessness impact on emotional and physical health, relationships, self-esteem and general well-being.

Given this multi-faceted cause / effect of homelessness, an aim of this day is that a multi-disciplinary group will forge mutual contacts which will be useful to their work in the long-term and to the quality of service they offer to people who are homeless.