Taking place between Monday 5 December and Sunday 11 December, HAW is a week of social and educational events which aims to raise awareness of the reality of homelessness in Northern Ireland. Held annually, it seeks to challenge stereotypes around homelessness and highlight the invaluable work of the homelessness sector here.
The theme of this year’s HAW is “Have the Conversation”.
“The timing of this week of awareness couldn’t be more apt in the run-up to Christmas, as many families are experiencing some tough circumstances this year in particular, among them being those facing homelessness,” said Kellie, after speaking at an event held in Parliament Buildings on Monday (5 December) to mark the beginning of the week.
“Between October 2021 and September 2022, 4,820 families presented to the Housing Executive as homeless in NI, a number that represents a heart-breaking number of men, women, and children in dire circumstances and faced with specific and unthinkable challenges. To be clear, homelessness is not just about sleeping rough, but also about people who live in temporary or overcrowded accommodation as well.
“Whilst the work of support organisations here such as Homeless Connect, the Simon Community, Ark Housing and Women’s Aid, among many others, is invaluable and we’re very grateful for all they do, we as legislators still have much to do in terms of tackling homelessness in NI. The APG on Homelessness will continue to push for a Housing Outcome that will include cross-cutting actions to prevent homelessness here.
“Alliance believes it is critical that we have safety nets in place for those who unfortunately fall on hard times and stand at risk of homelessness. We continue to push for the implementation of the proposed Homelessness Strategy 2022-27, look into the feasibility of a Preventing Possession Fund similar to those in operation in Scotland and England, and making affordable credit facilities more accessible, for example by encouraging new initiatives involving social housing providers and credit unions.
“Any person or family could be only a couple of pay cheques or an unexpected financial hurdle away from facing homelessness. Together, we must recognise and acknowledge our responsibilities to those in hardship, listen to their stories, and work to provide them with the help and resources needed to both lift them out of these situations and prevent it from happening in the first place.”