Shock at plans to close youth homeless hostel

By Aideen O'Flaherty

HOMELESS young people could end up on the streets if the planned closure of a youth homeless hostel and supported apartments in the city centre goes ahead, according to a staff member of Lefroy House.

Lefroy House is located at Eden Quay in the city centre and provides the Nightlight emergency hostel service for children from between 12 and 17 years old, and there are seven apartments for homeless young people between 17 and 19 years of age, to help them to transition out of care.

Lefroy House Screen Shot 2020 12 08 at 17.32 1

Lefroy House on Eden Quay

A Lefroy House staff member, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed that up to a third of the young people who access services at Lefroy House – which serves Leinster – are from Tallaght, Clondalkin, Ballyfermot and Lucan.

Staff were informed at the end of last week that there are plans for the 24-hour Nightlight service, which is run by The Salvation Army, and the supported apartments, which are managed by Tusla, to shut in the New Year.

The news has been met with shock and frustration by staff members.

The staff member, who has worked in Lefroy House for nearly a decade, told The Echo: “We see a lot of young people who are out of their homes, whether it’s because of drug issues or mental health issues.

“Nightlight is a youth homeless hostel for kids in crisis, and some of the kids wouldn’t be able to return home.

“Home isn’t a safe place for them, and we provide a safe place for them.”

Lefroy House is open 365 days a year, and two years ago they switched to offering a 24-hour service, where previously young people would have to leave in the morning and come back in the evening.

The staff member estimates that between 80 to 90 children access the service annually, across both their Nightlight hostel service and the seven supported apartments to help older teenagers to transition out of the service and live independently.

While the staff member is hopeful that another provider might be able to continue to offer something similar to the Nightlight service, they are concerned that the loss of the seven supported apartments will have a detrimental impact on people ageing out of the service.

“When they’re 19 they start the process of leaving, or they do it earlier if they feel ready to,” they said. “We’ll help them to get HAP and we go to viewings with them, but all of that will be gone.

“There’ll be 18-year-olds going homeless.”

According to the staff member, the service provides beds for 13 children a night when it’s at full capacity, and there are approximately 30 staff who work in Lefroy House, who are now expecting to face redundancy.

A spokesperson for Tusla said they are currently in discussions with The Salvation Army and new service providers about ensuring the continuity of emergency services for homeless young people next year, and they confirmed that The Salvation Army had notified them of their intention to cease operating the Nightlight service.

In relation to the aftercare support flats, Tusla said this service has “traditionally catered to a small number of young adults who have been transitioning out of care into independent living and who receive Tusla aftercare services.

“Tusla aftercare teams will continue to work with young people to ensure that they continue to have the appropriate supports going forward, and access to other housing supports such as CAS housing, student accommodation or others where needed.”

Malcolm Page, Assistant Director of Homelessness Services for The Salvation Army said: “The Salvation Army operates six major residential centres in Dublin, helping over 200 homeless adults.

“In addition, we offer a specialist emergency accommodation service for about 80 families with young children. The Salvation Army will continue to operate all these services, with over 400 beds in use every night in its centres.

 “However, in recent days we have informed staff in the Lefroy House facility in Dublin, which currently accommodates seven people on short-term stays, that it will close this facility next year.

 “Our aim is to enable the small number of young people who use this facility to be accommodated safely and securely in other support services and we will work with Tusla on transition arrangements. 

“The centre will continue to operate for the coming months to make this as smooth as possible.

 “This was a difficult decision but to stress, the proposed closure of Lefroy has no impact on other Salvation Army operations in Ireland.

 “While we are sad to close Lefroy House, it allows us to refocus our resources into essential services for adults and families.

“The long-term economic impact of the pandemic is already being felt, which makes our vital work with vulnerable adults and families even more urgent.”

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