Rise of numbers of homeless in Londonderry a worrying trend

A charity has said the rate of new homeless presenters in Londonderry is a ‘worrying trend’. Homeless charity Depaul noted that in the period from August to December last year 82 people presented to their Foyle Haven day service as homeless.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 11:34 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 11:36 am
Homelessness is on the rise in Londonderry, a local charity has said.

Depaul has said that their services have been under severe strain during the Covid pandemic with the majority of new presenters coming from outside the Londonderry area. They 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. We are dealing with more people even though on a number of occasions we 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.”

They have also noted a rise in the use of heroin and benzodiazepine (benzos) among the cohort of 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 on 18 occasions. In addition, the charity has 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 the one opened in Belfast in 2019. However, Depaul have been able to secure funding for a number of health services during Covid-19 where they are able to provide nursing interventions onsite, CBT Counsellors, a podiatrist and a dietician to help support vulnerable service users.