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Home > Last resort. Vulnerabilities, resilience and quality of life in a homeless population.

Finnerty, Joe (2018) Last resort. Vulnerabilities, resilience and quality of life in a homeless population. Cork: Cork Simon Community.

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This report presents quantitative and qualitative findings from research (the ‘Shelter survey’) into the quality of life of persons who are homeless and residing in the Simon Emergency Shelter, Anderson’s Quay, Cork. It also presents findings, in Section 9, from a similar study (the ‘Resident survey’) into tenants of accommodation to whom support is being provided by Cork Simon Community housing support services.

 

In relation to the Shelter survey:

  • Respondents were mainly in the 25-34 age bracket, followed by those in the 35-44 age bracket.
  • Two-thirds of respondents were male, and one-third were female.
  • Over half of respondents had one or more children.
  • One quarter of respondents had a history of care.
  • A significant number of respondents had been staying in the shelter for more than 6 months.
  • Almost three-fifths of respondents had been rough sleeping immediately prior to their current ‘long-term’ shelter stay.
  • There were mixed responses to a question about feelings of safety within and around the shelter building; however, a minority of respondents reported feeling ‘not at all safe’ within the shelter itself, and another one-fifth reported feeling ‘not at all safe’ outside the shelter at night.
  • While one-quarter of respondents reported drinking ‘most days or daily’, almost half of respondents had not drank alcohol during this time.
  • While almost half of respondents reported using drugs other than alcohol ‘most days’ or ‘daily’, one-third of respondents reported not having used any drugs in the previous three months.
  • Respondents reported high levels of lifetime heavy use of drink and drugs, with over four in five respondents falling into this category.
  • Most of the current and heavy drug users in the sample were seeking or receiving services for their addiction.
  • Respondents evidenced high levels of early school leaving and very low rates of participation in further education. Over one third of respondents had left school before or on completion of their Junior Cycle (or equivalent).
  • One quarter of respondents reported loss of employment as a factor in their loss of previous accommodation.
  • In relation to housing, insecurity of tenure, lack of affordability and poor quality in the private rented sector feature prominently in the route into homelessness for almost one-third of respondents
  • Just over one quarter of respondents were engaged with training or education, with a further one-quarter planning to so engage ‘in the near future’.
  • Almost half of respondents reported that managing their money was ‘very difficult’ or ‘quite difficult’.
  • Respondents most commonly nominated both their physical and mental health as ‘average’. Little or no change was reported where respondents were interviewed twice or three times.

 

In relation to the Resident survey:

  • Most respondents reported an improvement in their mental health since moving out of the Shelter and into their own home: 24% and 56% reported ‘better’ or ‘much better’ mental health.
  • Most respondents reported an improvement in their physical health since moving out of the Shelter and into their own home: 40% and 28% reported ‘better’ or ‘much better’ physical health.
  • Moving out of the Shelter and into their own home was also accompanied by a reduction in drug and alcohol use. One quarter of respondents had quit drugs, and one-fifth had quit alcohol, since moving into their present home.

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