A joint initiative between Dublin City Council (DCC), Mendicity Institution (Charitable Trust) and Barka (Polish NGO) has successfully reconnected 27 Eastern European migrants who were formerly homeless back to their homeland.
The initiative was set up in January 2012 and the Steering Group for teh Initiative set a target of reconnecting and reintegrating 20 individuals back home, this was exceeded and the initiative has been extended for a further six months.
The initiative emerged as a significant and timely next step from the decision to provide designated emergency accommodation at Charlemont St. (and subsequently North Frederick St.) for non Irish nationals in July 2011, and to provide the opportunity for an agreed interagency cooperation to be established between DCC, Crosscare, Depaul Ireland, and the New Communities Unit, Department of Social Protection(DSP), which is focused on a target group of migrants consistently presenting to homeless services. The role and visibility of the Mendicity Institution Day Centre was equally as important as DCC, as many of the residents of North Frederick Street access meals and support and this provides a very positive environment for engagement from Barka.
The success of the initiative comes down to the engagement with project 'leaders' from Barka. These are individuals who have experienced hardship themselves and have spent a period of their lives homeless and rough sleeping. The nature of the contact is time intensive, as it requires building trust and confidence with each individual to influence consideration to the reconnection option. The Barka team had over 2,500 contacts with over 60 individuals in the term of the six month pilot programme.
Within the current regulatory context, DCC acts as the provider of 'last resort' to those who have lost employment and who do not qualify for welfare support. This combined with the complexity of personal issues that individuals are experiencing, presents a significant challenge to the local authority and other statutory and voluntary services to be in a position to provide meaningful solutions.
Providing stabilised accommodation provided for the first time the ability to establish a detailed profile of the migrant group and their experience in homelessness. It was effective in compiling detailed information on the majority of residents with their consent, establishing status and entitlements and referrals to DSP for further action and decision. There were positive outcomes for a number of residents in this regard, which enabled further supported intervention towards an exit from homelessness.