Dublin on-street homeless services slammed as 'undignified' and 'unsafe'

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Dublin on-street homeless services slammed as 'undignified' and 'unsafe'
© (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images) A view of rough sleeper’s tents in Dublin city center

Dublin on-street homeless services have been slammed as ‘undignified’ and ‘unsafe’ by a new report.

On-street services that provide food for the homeless have been heavily criticised in a Dublin Region Homeless Executive report.

There are between 16 and 20 groups providing food, toiletries and clothes to people who are homeless in Dublin, and they can be seen on Dublin streets late at night providing services to crowds of people, often in city centre locations.

However, the review found services to be lacking the “skills” to deal with homeless people, “inherently undignified” and “contributed to increased antisocial behaviour on the city streets.”

The report, which was prepared by an independent consultant, read: “The groups do not have the skills or experience to engage with people who are homeless, and there are examples of their interventions undermining the work of mainstream providers and possibly supporting people to remain on or return to the streets.

“Evidence suggests that people who are homeless are not the main users of the services and the question of who uses the services and why remains to be answered.”

The on street service providers were criticised for not paying attention to “nutritional needs or food safety” and “attracting drug dealing”.

The report read: “The model of on-street services where people queue for food and eat in full public view on the main streets of the city is inherently undignified and is potentially unsafe.

“No attention is paid to nutritional needs or food safety and the crowds that gather at the food stalls are thought to attract drug dealing and other unsavoury activity, putting people who are vulnerable at risk.”

The DHRE document continued: “The services have disrupted businesses, intimidated individuals going about their daily work and contributed to increased antisocial behaviour on the city streets.

“There is failure individually and collectively on the part of the responsible official bodies to protect the welfare and safety members of the public and people who are homeless and vulnerable by implementing and enforcing existing regulations in relation to charities, food safety, services for people who are homeless, and obstructive behaviour.”

The “direct negatives” of the services “are significant” and include “intimidating” people, according to the findings of the report.

It read: “They have disrupted the operation of a number of businesses, contributed to increased anti-social behaviour on the city streets, apparently broken rules and regulations with impunity, and threatened and intimidated people going out about their business.”

However, there were benefits to the services listed in the report.

They included: “The benefits of on-street services are for the people who can avail of free items such as food, groceries, and clothes, and the opportunities for social contact and socialising.

“There are also intrinsic benefits for those who donate or give in other ways who will experience the satisfaction of altruism, and particular benefits for those who organise, manage, and deliver the on-street services.”

It added: “Other benefits include exposure on social and other media, public recognition, and the opportunity to comment on, shape, and change policy.”

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