Speaker for 5th November 2019

Vice President Derick Woods greets Liz Duffey with Norman Creaney, and Joanne Leonard (L) along with Speakers Committee Chair, Des Moore (R)

Coleraine Probus at home with the Simon Community

There were three guest speakers at the recent Coleraine Probus meeting, and were all pleased to be talking to club members about the work of the Simon Community here in the town. The Simon Community is also the nominated charity for our President's year in office. Norman Creaney, who is a volunteer at the Coleraine hostels, and Liz Duffey gave the members an excellent introductory insight into just what it is like to be 'homeless', what that means and who is more likely to be without a 'home'. The sad thing is that Homelessness can happen to anyone, and there is no such thing as a typical homeless person.

Norman sets the scene
Across all of Northern Ireland, the number of people presenting themselves to the Housing Executive as 'homeless' last year, was over 18,000. The number of people NOT going the Housing Exec, that may be 'sofa surfing' with friends or just 'living rough', would put the total much higher. The Simon Community has 24 accommodation units around the province (two in Coleraine) and can provide a safe, warm bed for about 400 people at any one time.

The aim of the Charity is to resettle people that are homeless into the community all in conjunction with other local agencies and groups. The emphasis is on people not the problem they may have. Homelessness does not discriminate and there are many reasons for the loss of a home. It may be a marriage breakdown, financial debt, shortage of public housing, unemployment, health or mental problems, leaving foster care or prison, drug or alcohol abuse.
Liz ads some more details

The main Coleraine hostel and office is on the Lodge Road and caters for adults. The second is in Mount Street, and is for 16 to 25 year olds. The implication of this shocked many members, how can '16 year old children' become homeless?

No matter what the problem is, the underlying message from the Community is one of hope. Members were moved by the description of the work of the Simon Community, in many ways uncovering a story of life in our town that goes unseen by many of the residents of Coleraine, and a excellent choice for the President's nominated charity.

(A special thanks to Graham for the help with this report)

For more information about the Simon Community, 'Click' the logo below (this will open in a new window)