News

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

The Stars Are Our Only Warmth

This is the title of a memoir written by Alice with well-known journalist Catherine Cleary which will be published by O’Brien Press on 1st October 2018.

In the 1970s Alice Leahy left nursing to work and live in a Dublin homeless shelter. This is the story of her life and life choices, from an empowering childhood, with free run of a big house estate in Tipperary to her invaluable work with some of Ireland’s most marginalised people, at The Alice Leahy Trust, in Dublin.

Alice has always been an important voice in the debate around homelessness in Ireland. An insider with an outsider’s eye, this is the memoir of an untypical life from a radical humanitarian who has always believed that anything is possible.

The Stars Are Our Only Warmth tells powerful truths about Irish life and the people who taught Alice what it is to be alive in this world.

obrien.ie/the-stars-are-our-only-warmth

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