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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Simon Community creating homes to celebrate 50 years

Pictured from left to right: Alliance MLAs Chris Lyttle, John Blair, Ballymena Councillor Patricia O’Lynn, Simon Community Chief Executive Jim Dennison, Andrew Muir MLA, and Director of Homelessness Services for Simon Community Kirsten Hewitt.

Simon Community has launched a new ‘Creating Homes’ programme to buy as well as manage 50 homes for people who are homeless as part of its 50th birthday celebrations.

The leading homelessness charity supports over 630 marginalised people each day. Its priority is to prevent homelessness with tailored approaches that tackle the issue of homelessness as well as providing specialist support services for clients.

Creating Homes is aimed at providing homes for people who are homeless, and the organisation asks for help to make this happen.

The charity has already successfully restored three homes in Belfast, one in Larne and a further home in Bangor. These are now homes to people who would otherwise be homeless.

The charity’s Chief Executive, Jim Dennison, met with MLAs at Parliament Buildings to outline plans, which includes recruiting an Assets Development Manager who will oversee the acquisition and management of rental properties in areas of highest need.

From delivering soup to rough sleepers on the streets of Belfast, the charity has come a long way since it was established in 1971. It now boasts an impressive variety of services including temporary accommodation, community outreach and housing solutions, a tenancy deposit projects service and the charity’s new private rental options.

Pictured from left to right: Jim Dennison Simon Community Chief Executive, Mervyn Storey MLA, and Director of Homelessness Services for Simon Community Kirsten Hewitt.

Launching the initiative ahead of world homelessness day, Jim Dennison, Chief Executive at Simon Community said:

“We are in a homelessness crisis. The NIHE’s own statistics show that homelessness services are currently not meeting demand, and that demand is predicted to grow in the coming years. This initiative is a response to that crisis.”

Speaking about their charity’s commitment to creating homes for people who are homeless, Iggy O'Doherty, Chair of Simon Community NI’s Board commented:

“It is a vital need in the charity’s 50th year to invest in purchasing and managing more properties for people who are homeless. The previous 18 months have shown us the importance that having a safe place to call home can have on a person’s mental and physical health. During this time, we witnessed adults, young people and families remaining in temporary accommodation for longer than they should and that is why the Board welcomes the charity’s new response to ending homelessness and looks forward to seeing the impact this initiative will have on the lives of people experiencing homelessness across Northern Ireland.”

Pictured from left to right: Jim Dennison Simon Community Chief Executive, Philip McGuigan MLA, and Director of Homelessness Services for Simon Community Kirsten Hewitt.

Speaking about the launch North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan said:

"I want to commend the work of the Simon Community. Politicians like myself need to work to ensure the number of our population who are homeless is significantly reduced, but services such as those offered by the Simon Community are unfortunately invaluable to many who find themselves with no alternatives."

Speaking about Creating Homes, Simon Community client Donald aged 25, said:

“I became homeless in 2018 due to my family home being overcrowded. Simon Community was able to take me in when I didn’t have anywhere else to go. My housing points were so low and the list for social housing was extremely high in the area I live.

“I was in a situation where I had been living in temporary accommodation for eight months and had never received a housing offer. I decided to accept the private rental offer as I wanted to move forward with my life and gain my own independence.

“As soon as I viewed the house, I knew this was meant to be my home and since moving in I have been able to establish friendships and have joined local sports teams. My own home has given me freedom and security whilst helping me to strengthen my relationships with family members.”

Simon Community is also calling on local businesses to support its Creating Homes programme by providing funding for paint and building supplies to create a valued home for people within their communities.

To find out more about how your business can support Creating Homes or to enquire about support for you or a loved one visit contact Simon Community on 028 9023 2882.


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