[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 December 2004, 14:21 GMT
Homeless 'need Christmas support'
A homeless man
Last year, 17,150 households presented as homeless
Christmas can be an emotionally turbulent time for homeless people separated from their families, a leading charity has said.

The Simon Community said many people would also face greater financial hardship at this time of year.

Director of development David Carroll said it provided emergency accommodation for homeless people.

This is done alongside other agencies such as the Housing Executive and charities like the Salvation Army.

While the number of people presenting as homeless shows no significant rise at Christmas, individuals needed greater support, said Mr Carroll.

That support is provided at 14 temporary accommodation centres the charity runs in Northern Ireland.

Christmas dinners and outings are among the special measures the Simon Community organises.

We have found that with the expansion of the European Community there certainly has been an increase in individuals from those new member communities presenting to us, particularly Portuguese and Polish people
David Carroll
Simon Community

Last year, 17,150 households presented as homeless to the Housing Executive.

During 2003-04, 3,572 individuals approached the Simon Community in need of emergency accommodation.

Almost 900 were accommodated and supported in the 279 bed spaces managed by the charity.

More than 50% of people who contact the Simon Community are aged under 25 and the charity said the age profile was becoming lower.

'Slept rough'

The charity is organising a conference on youth homelessness in Lisburn, County Antrim on Wednesday.

"Homelessness can be the result of many factors, but the main reasons are family conflict and family break-up," said Mr Carroll.

A dispute with a partner or spouse accounted for 15% of contacts and intimidation 7%.

About 20% of all people presenting to the Simon Community slept rough at some point in the previous two weeks.

The charity said the growing number of people arriving in Northern Ireland from other countries meant an increase in immigrants contacting it.

"We have found that with the expansion of the European Community there certainly has been an increase in individuals from those new member communities presenting to us, particularly Portuguese and Polish people," said Mr Carroll.

"A lot of people come here with the promise of work and if it falls through then they can also be left without accommodation."

Language barriers and cultural issues can prove problematic, he said.




SEE ALSO:
Executive 'complacent about homeless'
20 May 04 |  Northern Ireland
NI homeless figure growing
28 Aug 03 |  Northern Ireland
Minister unveils homeless strategy
24 Sep 02 |  Northern Ireland
Rise in NI homelessness
28 Aug 02 |  Northern Ireland
Strategy to tackle homeless problem
22 Feb 02 |  Northern Ireland


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific