Mendicity Institution census demonstrates ‘alarming’ increase in demand for day-services for homeless people

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PRESS RELEASE Wednesday, 18th September

The number of people accessing food, shelter and employment supports through Dublin’s oldest charity has increased by 50 per cent over the past year, Mendicity Institution.

That’s according to the findings of a ‘service-user census’ released today (18.09.19) by the Mendicity Institution

Established in 1818, the Mendicity Institution has been in operation for 200 years, providing support for people experiencing homelessness, isolation and marginalisation to live better lives.  The organisation provides day-services for homeless people, as well as employment and integration supports in multiple languages. 

The findings from the Institution’s 2019 service-user census show the number of people using the charity’s services daily has increased from 92 in 2018 to 138 in 2019, representing a 50% increase since last year. 85% of the service-users surveyed for the census are currently homeless. 

Key Census Findings
Other findings from the census include:

  • Only 3% of the total number have access to a bed on a 24 hour basis
  • 39% of respondents have access to ‘one night only’ bookings in homeless accommodation services.  This means they do not know, from one day to the next, whether they will have a bed for the following night. 
  • People of 18 different nationalities are accessing the Mendicity Institution’s services this year (up from 13 different nationalities in 2018). 

Speaking at the launch of the census findings today, the CEO of the Mendicity Institution, Louisa Santoro, said: “The Mendicity Institution plays a vital role in supporting homeless people in Dublin by providing crucial day-time services. Homelessness is a 24-hour problem, but many of the services currently in place operate only on the basis of providing overnight shelter. Then service-users are asked to leave in the early morning and, quite often, have nowhere to go but the streets.

“Homeless people need daytime supports and the Mendicity Institution provides that facility. The census findings show the demand for our services is increasing substantially. Despite this, the Mendicity Institution does not receive any statutory funding to support our daytime service provision which is completely untenable. We need to see this situation rectified by the Government to enable us to manage the increased demand for our services.

“The fact that the numbers of people using our services daily has increased by 50% since this time last year underlines the scale of the homeless and housing crisis in our society. It also highlights the need for the Government to adopt a multifaceted approach to tackling homelessness.  The solution does not just lie in just providing night-time accommodation, but also in recognising the importance of daytime services and integration and employment supports for homeless people.”

The Mendicity Institution is open 15 hours a day (8 am to 11 pm), which makes it the longest-opening day service for homeless people in Dublin. The service is provided with the help of seven full-time and two part-time staff.

Louisa Santoro closed the launch by adding: “The Mendicity Institution is now preparing for the busy winter months. This will put increased pressure on our resources and will further highlight the need for us to receive statutory funding to provide our vital services.”