YOUNG women with children are more than ever in need of emergency accommodation due to financial difficulties, the director of a housing agency in Limerick has said.
Rosemarie Fitzgerald, manager of Suaimhneas, was speaking to highlight their tenth anniversary in existence, in the Strand hotel in the city.
In the past decade, Suaimhneas, a branch of the housing agency Respond, has helped 264 families in Limerick, 489 children and provided 44,162 bednights to people in need, due largely to their economic circumstances. Some also have had to leave their home due to anti-social behaviour. “Behind those numbers lie a lot of heartbreak, suffering and loneliness,” said Ms Fitzgerald.
Due to the economic downturn she said their work “is needed more now than any other time since we started.”
“There’s a huge need for this service at the moment. The women have varied needs, but their main needs are shelter, food and clothes. We work with them over a period of time, and try to address areas such as employment and education, but our main focus is about re-housing,” she told the Limerick Chronicle.
Their six-unit facility is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and while it’s meant to be for a three-month stay, “it’s always longer”, she said.
Suaimhneas was opened in November 2002 to combat the growing numbers of homeless women and their children who were left with no other alternative than staying in a bed and breakfast. Based in Ballygrennan Close, Moyross, Ms Fitzgerald said funding from the JP McManus Charitable Foundation helped open their children’s playground. The Irish name of the centre is indicative of the service they provide to women, helping to create a feeling of peace and tranquility inspite of the difficulties they may face.