Updated: Mar 3
The Welcome Organisation is delighted to be opening a new, bespoke, supported accommodation-based service for women experiencing homelessness in Belfast.
Commissioned by the Housing Executive and funded through the Supporting People Programme, the new facility will be called Catherine House.
The Welcome Organisation sought permission from the family of Catherine Kenny, a vulnerable woman who died in Belfast in 2016, to name the facility in her memory.
Up to ten women can be accommodated on-site and recruitment for new staff to provide in-house support is underway.
Chief Executive of The Welcome Organisation, Jo Daykin-Goodall said: “We are delighted to have been selected to deliver this vital homeless support service for women.
“The Welcome Organisation has been delivering potentially life-saving homelessness services for over 25 years, including the delivery of female-specific accommodation for homeless women in crisis.
“Our staff have a wealth of experience not only in relation to homelessness, but in addictions and mental health as well.
“This new women’s service will expand on those services and will provide 24 hour supported living for ten women experiencing homelessness who are ready to take the next steps to live independently.
“This will be more than just a roof over their heads – it will have a therapeutic ethos were trauma informed support will be interwoven into their daily lives.
“We will have support workers on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We will also work with external organisations to provide skill-based training so that the women who use the service have the best possible opportunity to progress.
“This new service will help break the cycle of homelessness and provide the women with the skills and confidence to live independently.”
Housing Executive Chief Executive Grainia Long, is delighted the new service has been commissioned, explaining, “Establishing this service, and others like it, is a strategic priority for the Housing Executive.
“Women experiencing homelessness will receive a level of service that is appropriate to their needs, working with them to resolve often deeply rooted challenges and always acting with empathy.
“Alongside Catherine House, we have been growing the number of services for women experiencing chronic homelessness.
“As well as safe and secure sanctuary accommodation, a number of new services are being supported and developed to provide bespoke interventions over the next year.
“Around £500,000 will be allocated from the Supporting People programme to support new schemes and initiatives for women over the next 12 months.
“This includes funding for an Emotional Health and Wellbeing Officer to assist the Welcome Organisation, while an Activity Recovery Coaching Help (ARCH) programme, designed to promote positive mental health in those living with addiction issues, is also planned.
“Additionally, a new community-based accommodation service in East Belfast is being secured, enabling women to leave hostel accommodation and secure permanent tenancies.”
Ms Long continued; “Our homelessness strategy states that, wherever possible, homelessness should be prevented and if this is not possible, homelessness should be rare, brief and non-recurring.
“Our strategic approach has focused on supporting women in crisis in therapeutic, supported accommodation - and in the community - to help women break the cycle of poor mental health, addictions and homelessness.”
A Department for Communities spokesperson said: “The Department is pleased that funding from the Supporting People Programme will support Catherine House, which is providing a vital facility for women.
“Those who use this service will do so for a myriad of, often complex, reasons. Offering accommodation and sanctuary is a key first step.
“All those involved in addressing the issue of homelessness acknowledge that solutions need to go wider.
“It is with this in mind that the Department continues to work with a range of government, statutory and community organisations to deliver help those experiencing homelessness.”