Rate of new homeless in Derry ‘worrying’, says charity

More than 80 people in Derry presented as homeless towards the end of last year, a local charity has revealed.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 11:13 am
Worrying rise in homelessness in Derry, says charity.

Depaul, which runs the Foyle Haven project in the city, says the rate of new homeless people locally is ‘worrying’.

The organisation says that, in the period from August to December last year, 82 people presented to its Foyle Haven day service as homeless.

Depaul says that its services have been under severe strain during the Covid pandemic with the majority of new presenters coming from outside the Derry area. It also noted that a high percentage of these were due to a rise in drug use and alcohol consumption leading to out-of-area placements.

Depaul’s Senior Services Manager for Northern Ireland, Deirdre Canavan, said: ‘We have been dealing with major issues in terms of supporting people in Derry throughout the Covid period. New presenters, a rise in drug and alcohol abuse, overdose incidents and mental health interventions. Our staff have been very much on the frontline since the beginning.

‘We are dealing with more people even though, on a number of occasions, we have had to close our Foyle Haven day centre due to public health guidelines. In the long run, we feel this is not a sustainable situation without adequate funding and the availability of other support services.’

Depaul says there has also been a rise in the use of heroin and benzodiazepine (benzos) among the people it has been supporting during the Covid period.

Since January of this year, the charity says it has dealt with nine incidents of overdose and administered Naloxone - an opioid which, when administered, reverses the effects of a drug overdose - on 18 occasions.

Depaul says it has also provided Naloxone training to a number its service users and their family members.

The charity has been advocating for a health hub to be set up in Derry similar to one opened in Belfast in 2019.

Depaul says it has been able to secure funding for a number of health services during Covid-19 where it is able to provide nursing interventions onsite, CBT counsellors, a podiatrist and a dietician to help support vulnerable service users.