Rise in homelessness puts the Salvation Army back on streets.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

THE Salvation Army in Newry are teaming up with the Housing Executive to try and help eradicate rough sleeping in the city.

Last year the Newry Democrat exclusively revealed that the Salvation Army were closing down their 'Homeless Not Hopeless' scheme as they had found that there were no homeless people on the streets of Newry.

However, speaking to the Democrat about the latest initiative, Major John Parrott said that there has been a noticeable increase of people sleeping rough in area.

That's based both on what he himself has witnessed and what has been communicated to him from the Housing Executive and the local business fraternity.

Major Parrot said: "The Salvation Army are to resume their previous work over the cold winter months, with a view to linking them in with the Executive and other local agencies.

"The new initiative is being started because of the fact that it's come to the attention of the Housing Executive - and we've seen it for ourselves - that, out of nowhere, we have a group of people who are now using car-parks, alleyways, subways and so forth, to consume alcohol and to doss out.

"Whilst it's causing a problem to the businesses and to the people of Newry, the bigger problem is that we can see people who are homeless because a lot of the people that we actually know about aren't eligible for benefits.

"They're in a Catch-22 situation, they could benefit from benefits, yet they can't get benefits because they're not eligible, but they can't go backwards." Major Parrot said that the Housing Executive came to the Salvation Army and asked if they could help.

"What we've basically agreed to do is to reinstate our street teams which will be an extension from the Newry Knights." Based on the experiences of their 'Homeless Not Hopeless' scheme which ran last year, Major Parrott said that the charity had pinpointed three particular areas of concern.

He said: "One will cover the Buttercrane area, round by the bottom of Boat Street, the parks and that area; then you have what I'm going to call the Central Area, Hill Street/Mill Street to where we are on Margaret Street and towards Trevor Hill; then you have a third bit that runs from The Bank/Sugar Island sort of area to the far side of the Magistrates Court.

"They are the places where we found the majority of people on our last run." The Salvation Army will act as a facilitator and a conduit for people in need of both benefits advice and immediate short-term provisions.

"Our role really is to find them, but we know where they are because of the feedback we've received and what we've seen ourselves," Major Parrott continued.

"Then it's a case of building up a relationship with them and then we can direct them initially to the Housing Executive and to the multi-ethnic support work that's already there, and that in turn will lead them into connections with embassies and so forth.

"They can also be assessed by the Housing Executive to see if they are entitled to benefits, and obviously if they're entitled to benefits then they can claim those benefits and be fitted into whatever accommodation that may be available.

"We've had some of these people here who are now being reported, and we've provided clothing, we've provided hot drinks and this is now looking at it on a more formalised basis," Mr Parrott added.


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