Homelessness Awareness Week Reaches Stormont

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Pictured are Deirdre Canavan De Paul Ireland; Sandra Moore, Welcome Organisation; Paula Bradley, Assembly Private Secretary to Health Minister; Mervyn Storey, Minister for Social Development; Joanne McKissick, Patient and Client Council; Anne Sweeney, Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Ricky Rowledge, Council for Homeless Northern Ireland. Pictured are Deirdre Canavan De Paul Ireland; Sandra Moore, Welcome Organisation; Paula Bradley, Assembly Private Secretary to Health Minister; Mervyn Storey, Minister for Social Development; Joanne McKissick, Patient and Client Council; Anne Sweeney, Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Ricky Rowledge, Council for Homeless Northern Ireland.[/caption] ‘Keep Warm’ packs to help homeless people.

This Homelessness Awareness Week (28 November – 5 December) the Public Health Agency (PHA) has teamed up with Council for the Homeless in Northern Ireland (CHNI) to provide ‘Keep Warm’ packs to rough sleepers.

The packs, which are made up of items including waterproof coats, fleece jackets, woollen hats, gloves, thermal underwear, socks and rucksacks, are being given out as part of a scheme to help protect people who are sleeping rough from the effects of cold weather.

Colette Rogers, Health Improvement Manager at the PHA, explained: “The ‘Keep Warm’ packs provide a rapid response to help those most in need. The scheme is crucial in providing people who are sleeping rough with the things they need to try to stay warmer during cold, wet weather, as these people are at greater risk of cold-related illnesses.”

Adverse weather can have a major impact on the health of people who live on the streets, sometimes resulting in death, so these packs form a small part of a wider partnership approach to support vulnerable people who are sleeping rough. This work includes providing practical resources via street outreach organisations to help vulnerable people to access health, accommodation and homelessness support services.

Colette added: “This initiative is now in its fourth year, and the partnership with Council for the Homeless has ensured that another vital element of the immediate response that rough sleepers need is available. This scheme will help to reduce the impact cold weather has on one of the most vulnerable groups in our society.”

The clothing and other items, including an essential hygiene kit, are being distributed by organisations working directly with people who are sleeping rough.

Margaret Henry, Deputy CEO at CHNI, added: “As we get deeper into winter, it is becoming extremely cold outside, particularly at night, and these items are essential to reduce the risk of hypothermia and other illnesses in vulnerable people who are sleeping on our streets.

“This collaboration with the Public Health Agency has been essential to reach and support those who are at most at need, particularly at this time of year.”

There are a limited number of ‘Keep Warm’ items which will be distributed through street outreach services provided by key homelessness organisations in Northern Ireland.

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