Housing project helps young people at risk of homelessness

Tristan McGee, Galway Simon Housing Support Officer for Youth Services, outside the "unique" Tuí Bhriain Shantalla Housing Project.

It’s between the ages of 18 and 25 that most of us figure out what life is all about – we make our mistakes, we learn from them and we develop the skills we need to stand on our own two feet.

It’s in these formative years that we also need the odd boot up the backside to steer us in the right direction – without it, there’s a serious risk of derailing at some point.

It’s for that reason that Galway Simon has started a housing project in the city that aims to help young people in or at risk of homelessness.

Tuí Bhriain Housing Project in Shantalla provides accommodation for eight young people in need of support – hoping to “stem the spiral into homelessness”.

According to the Housing Support Officer for Galway Simon’s Youth Service, Tristan McGee, the initiative is unique in that it is an unstaffed site – with semi-regular visits from support workers the only intervention.

“Young people come through the services, so that could be Fairgreen Hostel or Osterley Lodge but also young lads and girls coming from care.

“If we have a vacancy, we contact all the referral agencies like Aftercare [Tusla], COPE, social workers – then we have interviews and everyone is assessed based on need,” says Tristan.

The site has four self-contained apartments, each with two bedrooms, a kitchen and living space – providing accommodation for eight people.

The idea behind the project is to enable these young people to learn the life skills necessary to care for themselves and keep a roof over their head.

“You find that when they leave care, they don’t necessarily have independent living skills – they might survive one or two years on their own, but its then when they run into difficulty.

“The idea of this is that it only lasts for 12 months – that is central to the whole programme because they all know that by the end of that year, they will be in independent living,” says Tristan.
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