Over 160 delegates from statutory, voluntary and community sectors attended the conference at the Waterfoot Hotel, Derry~Londonderry last week.
Dr Olive Buckley, Chair of Enhancing Care for the Homeless (ECHO), opened the conference and outlined an agenda reflecting the multi-agency approach adopted by the Strategy, recognising the fact that homelessness is complex and cannot be dealt with by a single agency and requires a multi-agency approach.
Presentations followed from Clark Bailie, Chief Executive of the Housing Executive, and Colm McQuillan, Director of Housing Services at the Housing Executive, detailing an in-depth look at homelessness over the last year and focusing on the multifaceted work undertaken to tackle homelessness by all sectors.
The Strategy update includes case studies highlighting how the work carried out by the Housing Executive and its partners is making a difference to the lives of those experiencing homelessness.
Another key focus was on homeless prevention, with the announcement of a new Homelessness Prevention Fund. This fund will help agencies bring forward schemes to address the triggers for homelessness.
A peer mentoring scheme for young people was also launched at the event. This project, funded by the Department for Communities, will be delivered by the Northern Ireland Youth Forum working in partnership with the Housing Executive.
A highlight of the day was the Excellence in Homelessness Service and Support Awards presentations. Joint winners were Florence Hand of Northern Health and Social Care Trust and Bernadette McAliskey of South Tyrone Empowerment Programme.
The afternoon provided an opportunity for workshops focused on housing and health, youth homelessness and the impact of adverse childhood experiences on homelessness. A masterclass from the Centre for Homelessness Impact on the use of data and evidence in developing services and strategies was also well received.
Click here to read the second annual report of Homelessness Strategy 2017-22: Ending Homelessness Together.