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Homewards Northern Ireland on a journey towards ending homelessness

This week saw a further step in our coalition gatherings, with Homewards Northern Ireland bringing together key representatives from a cross-section of organisations, meeting to form an action plan on how to prevent and end homelessness throughout the country.

In 2022-23, over 10,300 households were accepted as statutorily homeless in Northern Ireland, 37% of whom were families, with the main reasons behind this a shortage of social housing, relationship breakdown and loss of rented accommodation, often due to financial pressures. Two other groups particularly vulnerable to experiencing homelessness in NI are young people leaving care, and women with complex needs, with accessing adequate support a particular difficulty outside of urban areas.

The workshop, led by Neil McKittrick, Homewards Local Delivery Lead for Northern Ireland, concentrated on key local priorities, including galvanising the private sector to help provide solutions, and ensuring people with lived experience of homelessness have a central input going forward. The next steps will be to harness the obvious and widespread will and enthusiasm across sectors, and use it to form practical outcomes and more cohesion in services via a coalition action plan.

“Ending homelessness is a hell of a claim – but I actually believe Homewards means it, and I believe that they can. I’ve been working in this field for nearly 30 years and it’s the first time I’ve actually felt we could do this. What’s so beautiful about this model is that it’s on a person-by-person, family-by-family basis – they stop being homeless, ever again.”

-Alyson Kilpatrick, Chief Commissioner to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and member of Homewards National Expert Panel.