Inner City Helping Homeless
September 25, 2018
Outline the vision and mission of the Organisation
ICHH is a volunteer run, non government funded charity offering a 7 day outreach and advocacy service supporting the homeless around Dublin City and surrounding areas. What started in November 2013 as a one night only soup run has grown into the 16 hours a day, 7 day a week service that we see today. ICHH was originally formed to offer food, a drink and other supplies to people sleeping rough around the city has now become Dublin's front line outreach service. Our volunteers and mobile unit are on the streets 7 nights a week offering the same supplies as before but also sleeping bags, advocacy support and a sympathetic ear. ICHH is determined to fight the worst homelessness crisis in the history of the State and lead from the front in suggesting policy changes and meeting Ministers in the Dail to address ongoing concerns. We have 180 volunteers on our books and in the last 12 months we were recognised with a number of awards including a European Citizenship Prize from the EU parliament, a Dublin Docklands business award, Best Dublin for our CEO Anthony Flynn in the 98fm Best of Dublin awards and a recognition award from the Lord Mayor of Dublin for our volunteer coordinator Ann Birney.
We will continue to fight the injustices of the homelessness and housing crisis and strive to reach a day where we can close our doors as there is no homeless crisis or need for our services. Unfortunately, we are a long way away from that day but our work isn't done for a wage, it's done out of empathy and compassion to help others.
We stand over the saying "Never look down on someone unless you are helping them up"
How has the Organisation developed and tackled issues?
ICHH started as a one night only soup run and has grown into a 16 hour a day, 7 day a week outreach and advocacy service on the frontline of the homeless crisis. The biggest challenge that we have had to adapt to over the last 2 years is the huge increase in the number of families with small children that are now homeless in Ireland. Between 2015-2017 there was a 287% increase in the number of homeless children. In the last 12 months alone we have seen the number of homeless children increase by 31% which is completely unacceptable to us.
In the first 6 months of this year we have had to spend nearly €30,000 accommodating families with small children that presented to our office late at night with no other options of anywhere to go as homeless services had no accommodation for them. In these cases families are advised to report to and sleep in garda stations which is no environment for a child to sleep overnight. In these cases ICHH source our own accommodation and pay whatever is required to make sure the children have somewhere safe to sleep for the night.
We also adapted our office this year converting a storage room into a family friendly soft room, somewhere that children can do their homework and feel safe and secure while ICHH work with their parents to find accommodation for them. Over the summer alone we had up to 3 families a day presenting to our office for support which we have delivered with care and compassion.
Family homelessness is the biggest change in this country in the last 2 years and we've changed our service to address that and make life as easy as possible for these families.
What has the overall impact of the work been?
ICHH are now recognised as the front line outreach service across Dublin City and surrounding areas. In 2017 alone ICHH outreach volunteers had 37,120 on street engagements which shows how badly we are needed on the streets nightly. Time and again we hear from homeless people that our volunteers are angels and that they couldn't survive on the streets without the support of the charity.
We have also got to be known on a national level due to the launch of our #MyNameis campaign which was launched to bring a face to the homeless children living in emergency accommodation across the country. The campaign travelled to many counties to raise awareness and as a result are regularly contacted by people outside of Dublin for advice and support and are also regularly contacted by media outside Dublin for comment on the homeless crisis.
One of the most high profile cases recently was that of Margaret Cash who stated that it was only through the support of ICHH reaching out to her that prevented her and her children having to spend more nights in a garda station sleeping on chairs. In the following interview with Miriam O'Callaghan in our offices Margaret expressed how much of a support ICHH were to her:
As advised in the first section we have received a number of awards in the last 12 months including the European Citizenship Prize from the European Parliament which we collect in October and a Dublin Docklands business award. We are also nominated for a Dublin Chamber of Commerce award later this week with our charity partner Luas/Transdev for our biggest event of the year the Fill a Luas Shoebox event in Connolly Station in December
What makes this Organisation unique?
The biggest difference between us and other NGO's in the homeless sector is that we are all volunteers. We are regarded by homeless services, the media and public in the same breath as the likes of Focus Ireland, Simon Community etc but the big difference is we aren't paid to do what we do. We do it because we sincerely want to make a difference for the 10,000 people that are homeless in Ireland. As previously stated we would happily close our doors tomorrow and return to our normal lives if there was no homelessness in Ireland. Unfortunately homelessness is a big business for many in the sector but we can put our hand on our hearts and say we wish we weren't needed as much as we are.
Also one of our biggest strengths is the ability to react to situations as and when they happen without needing to run it past a number of high level management. The best examples of this that we have reacted to this year alone are the extreme weather incidents with both the snow storms and the heatwave. In both cases ICHH scrambled to create an emergency plan when none was forthcoming from homeless services. Our volunteers were on the streets day and night during the snow, including when the Taoiseach had advised people to remain indoors. One of our volunteers actually wrote their own car off in the snow having spent the day on the streets more concerned with others safety than their own. During the heatwave we scrambled to put a plan in place during the day for the fear of the homeless being dehydrated. 3 days later our #homelesshydration campaign had lead to donations of over 50,000 bottles of water. We always go the extra mile
How can the public support this work?
There are many ways for the public to support us. They can donate money, do a fundraising event like running the Dublin City Marathon for us and so on. The beauty of ICHH however is we can tell people that if they are hesitant to donate cash based on issues with other Irish charities they can always spend the money on the items our teams distribute on the streets nightly like tea, coffee, chocolate, sandwiches, sleeping bags, hats, scarves, gloves, toiletries etc.
They can also run a clothes appeal for us asking people to donate good conditioned second hand clothes that we in turn can distribute to the homeless both on the streets and in emergency accommodation like family hubs etc.
As we are a completely voluntary charity we always need volunteers to cover both outreach, the van and our office work such as reception. People that don't feel comfortable going out on the streets late at night can help by volunteering to sort clothes in our storage unit, volunteer to make sandwiches for outreach or in an admin role in the office covering reception or fundraising etc.
We also have a number of corporate charity partnerships that are fantastic in supporting us by donations and offering volunteers to help us cover our different roles.
How is the Organisation transparent and accountable?
Yes we are a registered charity, RCN 20101848 and accounts are uploaded to our website www.ichh.ie in the timeline outlined by the Charity Regulator who keeps in regular contact with us. We also have a board of directors and a chairman for governance.