Mayor to raise vital funds to tackle homeless crisis in North West
06 March 2023
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council has committed to raise vital funds in the hope of tackling the homelessness crisis across the city and district.
At the end of March 2022, Derry City and Strabane District Council area had the highest rate of those presenting as homeless in Northern Ireland. At present, there are thousands who are living in the housing crisis.
Mayor Sandra Duffy is hosting a 24 Hour Busk to raise much-needed funds for her chosen charity, First Housing Aid and Support Services (FHASS). FHASS are a registered charity in the Northwest established in 1989, who provide services to all homeless people and are committed to ensuring that a decent home is available to everyone.
Eileen Best, Director of Operations for FHASS, said that while the number of homeless continues to grow, the vital work of the charity can only take place with the generosity of our funders and other charitable donations.
“Whilst the numbers of homeless continues to grow, undoubtedly there is much pressure on the housing stock and the ongoing cost of living crisis has led many individuals and families to see a reduction in their income or welfare benefits. The situation has undoubtedly got worse.
“A statistical analysis reveals that homelessness in total, 3,411 households presented as homeless to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive during October - December 2022. This is an increase of 42 (1.2%) on the same quarter in 2021 (3,369).
“However, statistic’s only give us one picture, but the real measure of our work can be found in the many families and individuals we have been able to support through homelessness to the community. We have delivered this vital service within our city over the last 33 years.”
FHASS play a key role in the much-needed provision of support and accommodation to people in severe housing difficulty not only in the Northwest but throughout Northern Ireland. They provide Addiction Services, Floating Support and Resettlement Services, Accommodation Services, and Smart Move which deals with the private rented sector and tenancy support.
Eileen went on to explain the knock-on effect that comes from the homelessness crisis and the consequent issues people face daily.
“The Northern Ireland Housing Executive are at the forefront with their partners trying to deliver services to an increasing population. Their annual funding falls short in facing the crisis that is unfolding. We in the Northwest are facing the biggest increase. Within our services we have seen an increase in mental health, substance abuse, overdoses, and poverty. Services are not adequately funded to deliver and moving forward this is unsustainable.”
Speaking about the 24 Hour Busk event on 17th March, Eileen continued, “At First Housing we are humbled by the amount of support and enthusiasm of the artists, involved in the 24 hours Busk hosted by our Mayor. We are overwhelmed by their generosity of spirit for this fundraising campaign, and we are indebted to our Mayor Sandra Duffy and her team for their sterling efforts in bringing such an ambitious event together.”
Mayor Duffy urged everyone across the city and district to come out and support her event and donate whatever they could afford.
“I know we have all been affected by the continued cost-of-living crisis, but I also know we live in an incredibly generous part of the world. Whatever you can donate, even if it’s £1, will go towards helping families and individuals obtain a roof over their heads and a sense of security so they can rebuild their life.
“Please come along and support the event. We have an incredible list of acts that will busk throughout the night and all day on Saturday. There are musicians, comedians, choirs and even children’s’ groups taking time out of their busy schedule to help us raise some much-needed funds. It really is going to be a special event – one not to be missed!”
The 24-Hour Busk will take place in Guildhall Square from 6pm on Friday 17th March until 6pm on Saturday 18th March.
To donate, please visit: https://bit.ly/3VrcVM1
For more information, please visit www.derrystrabane.com/24hrbusk