Homeless agency gifted over €1m in wills last year

A six-figure bequest was among €1m in wills received by a homeless agency last year.

The donations helped bring the Dublin Simon Community out of the red as it battles against reduced funding and increased demand for its services.

Yesterday, Dublin Simon confirmed it received two large cash bequests last year, with the highest being over €350,000. Monies from wills more than tripled overall to €1.056m.

The windfall contributed to Dublin Simon recording a surplus of €775,287, compared to a deficit of €51,772 in 2010.

Spokesman for Dublin Simon Patrick Gleeson said yesterday: “Bequests are essential in these very tough times and they are very gratefully received and appreciated.

“Bequests are important because they are an opportunity to make a lasting, personal difference to people who are homeless and they enable us to sustain and increase our services in areas where the demand is highest.”

According to Mr Gleeson, the number of bed nights it provided last year was 184 per night, an increase of 9% on the 169 provided in 2010. In excess of 2,500 people accessed Dublin Simon’s services last year across Dublin, Kildare, and Wicklow, and it is putting in place additional services to combat homelessness.

Mr Gleeson said that the last rough sleeper count, in April, found 73 people sleeping rough on Dublin’s streets.

“This number is the absolute minimum amount of people who are sleeping on the streets on any given night. This does not include people staying in squats, in hospital, in internet cafes, temporary B&Bs, or sleeping on friends’ couches.

“These people are considered the ‘hidden homeless’ and it is extremely difficult to quantify the number of people in this tenuous situation.”

Head of housing services with Dublin Simon Catherine Kenny said: “Currently there are too many people rough sleeping, or are reliant on emergency and short-term accommodation.

“There is a requirement for an increased number of ‘move on’ housing options to become available to reintegrate people into their communities and decrease the incidence of homelessness.”

The agency increased its spend from €9.2m to €9.5m last year after its income rose from €9.1m to €10.5m.

The amount raised from fundraising events and other income decreased only marginally from €2.19m to €2.18m, while revenues from “corporate and trusts” declined sharply from €863,248 to €533,927.

Residents’ contributions dropped from €376,365 to €348,124, with income from shops increasing from €253,373 to €259,156. Grants from state agencies topped €5.4m.

The numbers employed by the charity increased from 124 to 131 with its employment costs topping €6m.

Mr Gleeson said that the agency is becoming more dependent on the public’s goodwill due to the increased demand for its services and the HSE cutting back its funding by 5% in additional to the 5% cut imposed last year.

Chief executive Sam McGuinness said: “In these very tough times, everybody is under severe financial pressure and we are finding that the typical perception of homelessness is changing. People realise that homelessness is something that could happen to anybody.”


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