Friday 17 August 2007


Recently I took part in a charity Spin Cycle event, 2 hours sitting on one of these bikes. It was excellent and was in support of a local charity - The Lighthouse helping men who have become homeless.

I have been thinking about this and I know how easy it is to walk past someone who is in this situation and look at them with disdain, without really appreciating the issues behind their circumstances.

I know some people view those helped by the local charity - The Lighthouse as no more than drunk men, but that says more about them than the men.

I took these FAQ's from the Simon Community website

How many homeless people are there in Northern Ireland?
Last year a total of 17,150 households in Northern Ireland presented as homeless to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, an increase of 4%. more information »

What is the main cause of homelessness?
The main cause of homelessness in Northern Ireland is family and relationship breakdown, which represents over 40% of people who are homeless. This is followed by loss of tied/ rented accommodation, having no Northern Ireland accommodation and accommodation not reasonable. Other reasons include: intimidation, leaving care, failed tenancy and leaving prison or hospital.

What are the age ranges of homeless people?
3,375 single young people aged 16 - 25 years of age presented as homeless in Northern Ireland last year. Almost 55% of presenters to Simon Community Northern Ireland last year were aged 25 and under. 24% of people who approached Simon Community in need of emergency accommodation were aged between 26 and 39 years of age and 18% were 40 years of age and older.

Should I give money to people in the street?
The issue of giving money to people on the streets is an individual choice. Sometimes we are not always in the position to give money but what we can give is respect.

Why don't they just go home?
The most common reason for homelessness in Northern Ireland is family conflict and relationship breakdown. For many people, home is the last place they can go and some find becoming homeless is the only option they have.

Why don't they just get a job and a flat?
It is not always easy for people whose lives are in crisis to get on with life. Often they need support in dealing with their problems, as it becomes difficult to break the cycle of homelessness. No job, no home and often no experience or qualifications leads to no hope and without positive intervention the cycle of homelessness continues.

Why are there so many homeless in Northern Ireland when there are so many empty flats?
Homelessness is not caused by a lack of accommodation but by other issues affecting the individual person, such as health and family difficulties which can send people into a downward cycle were accommodation also becomes an issue. There is however a need for more affordable and accessible accommodation available in the areas people actually want to live.