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Latest Cloverhill News
Dec 8, 2022
Homelessness Awareness Week, which runs until December 11, seeks to challenge stereotypes around the issue, highlight the invaluable work undertaken by homelessness services and cast a light on the significant number of people affected in Northern Ireland. Co-ordinated by the homelessness sector’s representative body, Homeless Connect, a programme of activities will encourage people to “have the conversation” about homelessness to understand the causes and what needs to be done to prevent and alleviate it. Laura McCann (27) has experienced homelessness on and off for the last number of years. Mum to daughter seven-year-old Amelia, this week is of particular importance as she moves into a new home. “I’m a bit stressed out, but I can’t wait,” she tells Belfast Telegraph. Receiving help from charity Depaul throughout, Laura has, during her period of homelessness, lived in two houses. In between, she has been in the hostel at Cloverhill in west Belfast. “People think with homelessness that you’re just on the streets but it’s not; I wanted to move into a hostel to get my own home,” she explains. Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter. Enter email address Sign Up One home was unsuitable. Earlier this year, another home was broken into and ransacked, after which Laura and Amelia were placed in a hostel. She adds: “When it was my daughter’s Confession, I went into the house to get ready and my whole house was completely wrecked. I wouldn’t live there again. Obviously with a child, it upsets me to have to move so much, it really hurt me.” Laura also experienced a health scare, developing sepsis within the last year. “The night before, I woke up vomiting,” she says. “I was being sick all night, then vomiting blood. I went to the Royal [Hospital] who told me all my organs were shutting down. I ended up going into intensive care then they put me in an induced coma as I was unable to breathe on my own. “I had to learn how to walk again. I still don’t feel like myself; it’s all coming back to me now. I was diagnosed with PTSD and have really bad nightmares, waking up in the middle of the night thinking I’m in a coma.” While she and her daughter are delighted to be getting their own home, they are both sad to be leaving Cloverhill where they have been part of a community with so many friends and connections. “She’s amazing,” says Laura of Amelia. “She loves this hostel; she said to me the other day that she didn’t want to leave. “She loves the staff. Obviously, she’s happy at the same time to move. “She’s so understanding, you wouldn’t think she was only seven. She’s an amazing wee child. Me and her are best friends.” Expand Help: Darren Waddell is a mental health support worker at Depaul Laura, who can’t speak highly enough of the Depaul staff who have been continually supportive of her throughout the years, notes that many are scared to say they’re homeless for fear others would judge them. “Homeless doesn’t always mean living on the streets in a sleeping bag,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to say you’re homeless. It’s ok to go in and talk to people. Some people are scared to go the Housing Executive and explain they’re homeless. It’s not like that. I know people who are jumping from sofa to sofa because they’re frightened to say they’re homeless.” Preparing for her new home, Laura says she hasn’t got to the point where she feels settled, given the number of times she has had to move. She adds: “Hopefully this is the time for me to get settled and have a wee family home. “I just want me and the child to feel comfortable where we are and no more moving.” Homelessness Awareness Week is also about acknowledging the great work being undertaken by homelessness services, most of which are charities. Darren Waddell is a housing first mental health support worker for Depaul. Prior to this, his role was housing first support worker, which detailed securing tenancies for those experiencing homelessness, helping them to sustain their tenancies and working to give them access to support networks that offer additional help, for example, finance and registering with a GP. He explains: “It’s linking in with the Housing Executive, finding out who their housing officer is, looking at how many points they have, where their areas of choice may be, working alongside the individuals, making sure that we can maximise their points to get them as many points as they can. “Also, checking out the areas they have down to make sure that they would be suitable for them. You know what it’s like in Belfast and Northern Ireland, there’s always green and orange. There’s certain places that certain individuals may not be able to go.” Darren started with Depaul four years ago and is based at Nelson Street in Belfast. His work involves being within the community with service users. “Once we get them to a point and they get offers and they get a tenancy of their own, we then obviously stay with them,” says Darren. “We’re still providing support, applying for discretionary grants so that they can buy furniture, white goods, big things to turn their tenancy into a home. “Then, sitting down with the service user and specifically looking at where their main needs are, we will make referrals to other agencies that can come on board and provide that support in each specific area.” It’s about offering dignity, he agrees, and a hand up rather than a handout. “A lot of guys, if they’ve been homeless for a long time, they’re not used to actually being in their own tenancy,” he says. “It takes them a while to settle in and settle down because they’re so used to being on the street. Even sleeping on a bed; they’re so used to sleeping on the ground, that’s a massive change for them. It sounds really weird: how can somebody not be used to sleeping on a bed, but if they’re so used to sleeping on the street, lying on the bed is going to be strange for them.” As Laura says, many believe homelessness are exclusively those who we see living on the street. “Yes, you can physically see people sleeping on the street. You obviously know they’re homeless,” adds Darren. “But the amount of people that you don’t see, or you may see from day to day, and you don’t actually realise that they’re homeless, that they’re jumping from sofa to sofa. They’re in hostels, they’re being put up in a bed and breakfast, hotels, they just go from one to the other.” He describes his role as “intense” and “full on” but something that he loves, moving from a career in retail to working for Depaul. Darren had been involved in voluntary work for the past 20 years, ranging from youth work to outreach work in the Bangor area. He says offering support for others lets them know that they’re not on their own. “There are loads of people in the same boat here. “It’s going into those sorts of groups of people and getting as much support as you can, which is why I switched roles to the mental health support worker,” he says. It’s noted that 100% of housing first service users have mental health issues, and with Darren on call, they know they always have someone they can contact. “I’m not a mental health professional, by any means. “But, for me, it could be something very simple as just taking someone out for coffee and letting them talk,” he says. “Even taking them down to the beach or something or an hour. Just walking along the beach, throwing stones, simple, simple things can make a massive, massive difference in somebody’s life.” Darren recalls a case when a male had come out of prison and was experiencing mental health and addiction issues. Darren secured a weekly check-in for him by his social worker and because of this and the ongoing support from Darren, this service user has sustained his tenancy for two years — the longest period he has ever managed to achieve. Darren says: “I love my job. Every service user’s needs are individual, and you never quite know what to expect when you visit them in their tenancy. But we never judge and always take people as we see them.” According to Nicola McCrudden, chief executive of Homeless Connect, this year will strike a chord with many members of the public given the current economic climate. “At a time when households are facing the perfect storm of high inflation, sky-rocketing utility bills and rising interest rates, many families are worried about keeping a roof over their heads,” she says. “The reality is that anyone could find themselves facing homelessness through no fault of their own. “Missed mortgage payments, rent arrears, relationship breakdown, poor health or being asked to leave by your landlord are all genuine reasons why people find themselves at risk of becoming homeless.” At present, the social housing waiting list in Northern Ireland continues to grow year on year, with over 44,000 households currently waiting for a home. Full details of Homelessness Awareness Week events can be found on www.homelessconnect.org/homelessness-awareness-week-haw-2022 Most Read
Cloverhill Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
When was Cloverhill founded?
Cloverhill was founded in 1961.
Where is Cloverhill's headquarters?
Cloverhill's headquarters is located at 2035 N Narragansett Ave, Chicago.
What is Cloverhill's latest funding round?
Cloverhill's latest funding round is Acquired.
Who are the investors of Cloverhill?
Investors of Cloverhill include Hostess Brands.
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