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Coping in a crisis

Published: Wed, 28 Feb 2018
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If you see anyone rough sleeping in Belfast then please get in touch with our partners at The Welcome Centre on 028 90 240424 or 07894 931047. Outreach service also runs from 7am until 2am daily. If you see rough sleepers in Derry/Londonderry please contact Foyle Haven on 02871 365259.
If you, your family or your home is affected by civil unrest, severe weather or major flooding in the area, a number of organisations and agencies can help to resolve the immediate problem and give support and guidance afterwards to help you and your community overcome the effects of the crisis.
The type and the extent of the problem you face will determine which organisation is best placed to both act as a primary responder and to contact support organisations and agencies to assist in resolving the problems.

What should I do?

The first thing you must do in any emergency situation is to make sure you and your family are not in any physical danger. If you feel that you may be, you should contact one of the organisations or agencies whose work would best place them to assist you initially. For example, The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service would be best placed to respond to a fire in your home.
To assist you, the list below gives some information about the organisations that are available to respond and their field of expertise.
Organisation Responsibilities
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Co-ordinate all response activities. Process casualty information and identify people affected.
NI Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) Primary function is to extinguish fires and save life.
N.I. Ambulance Service (NIAS) Immediate medical treatment. Movement of injured to hospital.
Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) Re-housing, on a temporary basis initially, those made homeless by incidents. Emergency repairs to dwellings.
Health & social care trusts Counselling & general welfare of those affected during and after the event. Opening of rest centres.
Department for Infrastucture Roads Service, NI Water and flooding related issues.
Voluntary organisations Supplementary support and care services. Would include Red Cross, St John Ambulance, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul etc.
Compensation Agency Issue claim forms and offer guidance on losses.
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Water quality issues.
Local councils Co-ordinate recovery activities. Rest centre provision.
When you have been advised that no physical danger exists and you can return to your home after a major incident you should assess the state of your home and whether or not it is suitable for habitation. If it is not suitable for habitation there are options for temporary accommodation in rest centres set up by your health trust/district council or in alternative, temporary accommodation by the NIHE where this is available. You may also wish to stay with family or friends until you can return to your home.
If you decide to leave your home to go to accommodation you have organised yourself you should advise the PSNI, health trust, Housing Executive or district council and give a contact address and telephone number.
If after an incident you or a family member is suffering from stress or anxiety you should contact your local health & social care trust who will offer advice and assistance.

My home is damaged – what do I do?

If you are a Housing Executive tenant and your home has been damaged in an incident, report the damage to us as quickly as possible. We will arrange an inspection of the property and schedule the necessary work to ensure your home is habitable in the shortest time possible. However it is important to note that you should have home insurance for all personal items such as furniture, carpets and electrical goods. The Housing Executive is not responsible for the replacement of such items.
If you are a private tenant you should contact your landlord or their agents immediately. It may be possible for the Housing Executive to carry out some immediate repairs to render the house resistant to the weather, but it will be necessary for the landlord or their agents to give permission to the Housing Executive to undertake this work.
For owner occupiers, the Housing Executive will, only if requested, carry out weather resistant repairs to allow the house to be occupied after an incident.
The Scheme for Emergency House Repairs sets out how the Housing Executive can assist occupants of non Housing Executive homes following civil unrest or severe weather.

Scheme for Emergency House Repairs (SEHR) (Private dwellings)

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive operates the Scheme for Emergency House Repairs which allows it to carry out temporary first aid repairs to non Housing Executive homes following incidents of civil unrest, severe weather, flooding or such major disaster affecting the locality. The scheme is administered by your local Housing Executive district office.

Temporary repairs

The Housing Executive will carry out temporary first aid repairs which are aimed at keeping your home secure and weatherproof and enable you to remain in your home after a major incident. This work would include boarding up of damaged windows and doors and providing temporary roof coverings to damaged roofs.
Repairs to the interior of your home are not normally included within the temporary repairs unless they are in some way essential to the weatherproofing of the dwelling.
The Housing Executive will assess the nature and the extent of the work necessary and carry out the “first aid” work with your permission. There will be no charge for this service.
Alternatively, owner occupiers can opt to have the temporary work carried out by their own workmen and make a claim against their insurance company or compensation agency as appropriate. You should contact your insurance company and/or the compensation agency prior to carrying out any work.


In some cases it will not be possible to carry out temporary repairs due to either the extent of the work or prevailing conditions. In such cases the Housing Executive will assess the eligibility for temporary re-housing in line with the homelessness legislation guidelines.

Properties excluded from the SEHR scheme

  • Housing Executive dwellings
  • Commercial & industrial premises
  • Abandoned or unoccupied dwellings & properties under construction
  • Properties damaged beyond reasonable repair
  • Outbuildings within the confines of residential accommodation.