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Sunday 4 December 2016

Hostel marks 'grim reality' of 100 years of homeless services

Depaul chief Kerry Anthony
Depaul chief Kerry Anthony

Celebrations at a homeless shelter which has cared for people for 100 years were overshadowed by the "grim reality" that the same issues still exist today.

The Back Lane Hostel in Dublin 8, which houses 60 homeless men in both long-term and emergency accommodation, marked its centenary yesterday.

It is run by Depaul Ireland in partnership with the St Vincent de Paul Society, and was founded after a public appeal by then Archbishop of Dublin William Walsh in 1915.

"A hundred years on, we are celebrating the work that we have done collectively, but there's still a sense of grim reality today," said Depaul chief executive Kerry Anthony.

"The reality is that in 2015 homelessness is still a real and visible issue in Irish society. We have seen and supported ever-increasing numbers of families who are entering into homelessness services for the first time.

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"But here in Back Lane, we know the reality of single people also coming into homeless services for the first time.

"We want homelessness to only ever be a short point in somebody's life and never allowed to define a person."

The shelter, which has 20 staff, worked with 275 homeless men last year.

"It's about move-on and resettlement into the community, so doing a lot of work around getting people ready to live independently and accessing private rented accommodation or social housing," said Ms Anthony.

President Michael D Higgins commended the work done to help Dublin's homeless men.

Also speaking at the event was Jeff Maher, national president of the St Vincent de Paul, who said that "in a country that talks so much about prosperity and increased prosperity, it is something that we would like to see addressed as part of the upcoming election. I think it is time for government to treat this issue with the need and the urgency that it deserves".

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