Calls to 24-hour helpline increase
The number of homeless-related admissions to Oasis House in 2017 came close to reaching parity with the numbers accessing the service due to domestic abuse. According to the Oasis Housing CLG Report for 2017, 40 women entered the Morrisson’s Road-based service due to homelessness, compared to 46 domestic abuse admissions. This marked the second successive year in which the difference between both admissions stood at six, in contrast to the more sizeable margins recorded between 2012 and 2015 (see table below). It also marked a 33 per cent increase in homeless-related admissions when compared to the 2016 tally of 30.
“Homeless clients that come to us often have a background of domestic abuse as well,” Oasis House Manager Claire Coughlan told The Munster Express. “And a lot of our domestic abuse clients, if an early intervention is not put in place, their own situation develops into homelessness as well. It’s an area where we work closely with Tusla, along with our new Outreach Service (which reported upon in our January 15th edition) and the Gardaí are very aware of it too; we’re all working together to try and create scenarios where it’s not always the (abused) woman and her children who end up leaving the house. Why should it be that the perpetrator gets to stay at home, while a mother and her children are thrown out of not only their home, but their daily routine, going to school, maintaining contact with their friends and so on.”
Ms Coughlan believes that the Oasis House service is “just as busy as it was five years ago, and in some ways, I think it’s got busier”. She explained: “In earlier years here, the focus of our service was on crisis accommodation, and that has always been busy; now there might be certain times of year such as just before Christmas when things might get a little quieter, then we’re traditionally busier again every New Year but where we’ve become even busier is through the other services we provide. We now provide six services: our 24-hour helpline (1890-264-364) which has had an increase in calls, our one to one drop-in support service, the accommodation service which I already mentioned, our court accompaniment service, the TLC kids’ service and there’s also our new Outreach Programme Service and we’ve noticed that the newer services have been noticeably busier, including the helpline.”
Regarding court accompaniment, Claire Coughlan said: “We have weekly requests for it. We have a part-time worker who could easily fill full-time hours if we had the funding…it’s a service that’s open to everyone in the community, be if it for someone applying for a order or is in court due to a breach in an order. Women that we might never have met before ring us, sometimes in a complete panic, and talk to us about the thought of sitting in a waiting area in court, where the abuser could well be sitting directly across from them, it’s really, really daunting. And I’d say a lot of women wouldn’t attend on the day unless they had somebody sitting with them, so to have someone who is trained in this area, who is quite calm and confident and knows the process, it just makes the experience a whole lot easier. There’s also a continuity maintained for a client if they have to go back three or four times to court, to have the same worker available to them each time, which is a huge help, and we’ve had great feedback since we introduced that service.”
The Oasis House statistics for 2018 are set to be published in the late Spring.