Homeless and drugs services stretched

4th October 2012

Merchants Quay Ireland provided over 73,000 meals in 2011, up from 64,000 the previous year. The homeless organisation’s Annual Review 2011 also reports a 21% increase in demand for its free GP service and an average 115 people accessing its evening service each day.

Over 4,000 people, including almost 500 new clients, used Merchant Quay’s Dublin city centre needle exchange last year, and there was increased demand for similar regional services. The midlands drug services recorded 4,000 one-to-one interventions.

IMPACT represents staff working at Merchant’s Quay Ireland, and the union is currently organising across the homeless services sector. The union’s website will be posting details of general meetings for homelessness staff in the coming months.

Merchants Quay Ireland says it has maintained and developed its services in spite of reduced state funding. A new homeless centre, to open this Autumn, will bring its frontline, homeless and drug services under one roof, provide a greater number of hot meals, and improve medical facilities for those in need. It has also opened a ten-bed detox facility, which increased national provision by 30%.

The organisation is now delivering services in 11 counties across Ireland and in the prison system. It has increased services in the midlands to keep pace with growing need.

Its chief executive Tony Geoghegan said history was repeating itself, with high levels of unemployment feeding a drugs crisis and rising poverty creating more homelessness “Today MQI is on the frontline for society’s homeless and hungry providing basic meals and healthcare daily for some of Ireland’s most needy. The growth in demand shows no sign of abating, while our drugs services nationally are stretched to capacity as the drugs crisis grows across the country,” he said.