Novas boss highlights quality of Limerick homeless service

Novas CEO Michael Goulding.
Novas CEO Michael Goulding.

WHILE Apollo House in Dublin has highlighted some poor standards of accommodation for homeless people, Limerick-based voluntary agency Novas is eager to highlight the quality services it provides to all its clients in its Supported Temporary Accommodation services (STA).

Chief executive Michael Goulding says that the issue of ‘single rooms for single individuals’ has been a priority for Novas for a long time.

We prioritised the provision of single rooms and in all but two rooms at Arlington Lodge in Tralee, we achieved this,” he told the Limerick Post this week.

In Limerick, Novas’ McGarry House provides 40 single units of STA accommodation. The service also provides long-term apartments for tenants requiring a degree of support to maintain independent living.

In Brother Russell House, which won Best Homeless Project at the ISCH Awards in 2015, all accommodation in also provided in single, en-suite rooms. Mr Goulding stated that Novas “thoroughly believes that single units of accommodation provide privacy and security and ultimately provide better outcomes for individuals and more sustainable pathways out of homelessness”.

“Clients know that this is their home for up to six months so the anxiety of where they are going to sleep from night to night has been removed,” he explained.

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As well as the provision of single units of accommodation, all clients are allocated key-workers who provide ongoing support around their mental health, addiction and family breakdown and individualised care plans are developed.

However, a recent Winter Beds Initiative opened by Novas in partnership with the Limerick Homeless Action Team does provide shared bedrooms. This service was an immediate response to the spike in rough sleeping in the city.

“While the sleeping arrangements are not ideal, the service took people off the streets and prevented the need for any rough sleeping. It is only a temporary arrangement, until the end of March, and in the meantime Novas are working to provide long-term solutions for the clients who avail of the service. The Novas Housing First Team are working tirelessly to locate apartments and houses for those that are using both the STA units in McGarry House and the Winter Beds Initiative.”

The Winter Beds Initiative is one of a range of services provided by Novas to homeless people during this particularly cold spell. McGarry House is also extending its capacity by four during the coming weekend to accommodate any overspill. Its Street Outreach will provide outreach support each evening and is a vital access point for some of the city’s most vulnerable homeless people.

Novas also operates a 24-hour helpline in conjunction with the Homeless Action Team for those who find themselves out of home. This number is 1800 60 60 60. The organisation urges anyone who sees someone rough sleeping over the weekend to contact this number.

by Alan Jacques

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