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Good Shepherd welcomes CE

Thursday, 18th May, 2017 1:01am

Thirty homeless families with more than 60 children in B&Bs and guesthouses, along with ten homeless mothers with their children and 18 single women in Edel House.

Those are the figures from Good Shepherd Cork as a new chief executive joins the homeless charity.

Allison Aldred has a healthy degree of apprehension because she wants to do a great job as well as a sense of excitement about her new role.

Allison was most recently Chief Executive at Suas Educational Development where she worked for the past two and-a-half years. Previously, she worked at Trocáire as Head of Strategy and Impact and before that Allison spent nearly ten years with Oxfam in the UK. This included seven years as Regional Director for South Asia. Allison was also Global Lead on Gender Equality for Oxfam.

She is also the current voluntary Chairperson of the West Cork Women Against Violence Project.

“I’m coming into an organisation that is so quietly impressive, it does really good work in a really difficult context and I’m excited to be a part of that,” Allison tells the Cork Independent.

Speaking with Allison, it’s clear that she has a lot of respect for her new colleagues.

She said: “I’ve a lot colleagues here who have been here a long time and who are really well grounded with the current situation in Cork.

“There’s lot of great people here with loads of ideas so I think my role now is to work with those colleagues and marshal those ideas in order to help women and children.”

As for those reaching out to Good Shepherd Cork for help, Allison said they fall in to two main categories.

The first is economic homelessness, which she said more people are becoming homeless because of.

She explained: “What I’ve been surprised at coming into the service is the very quick change in people’s circumstances. You can go from being employed and living in what you think is a stable accommodation to losing your job, not able to pay rent.

“It’s really difficult to find cheap and quality rental accommodation in Cork and I think people can find themselves homeless shockingly quick.”

The second issue, she said, is a much longer one and that’s when people become homeless because of other problems in their lives.

She gives examples of mental health issues and women who are experiencing domestic violence in the home and have to leave a violent partner.

Good Shepherd Cork is not able to cope with the amount of those looking for its help and they have to turn away people, such is the demand.

She says that because of this, they are trying to support more families in B&Bs and guesthouses.

She made the point that just because it’s called a B&B doesn’t mean those mothers, fathers and children are eating a breakfast. “It’s just a bed!” she stated. Good Shepherd Cork also has a residential care home for teenage girls and is currently looking after six girls.

Allison said it’s often harder for teenagers to find help if they become homeless because a lot of the homeless charities and services deal with children or adults and they are neither.

THE FUTURE

Allison says there’s a big gap between what people can afford and the amount of accommodation available in Cork.

More private and more social-supported housing is needed.

She said: “There’s a mix-match in the growing number of people who desperately need help to get long-term housing and the number of houses available. Greater investment is needed in supported housing.”

She also hopes to see more investment in preventative measures and in the type of services that will stop people becoming homeless in the first place.

“That might be an investment in mental health or addiction services and investment in awareness raising services around domestic violence,” she told the Cork Independent.

To donate to Good Shepherd Cork, visit goodshepherdcork.ie.

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