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Doing Things Differently

01 March 2024


Simon Community Pledges to Tackle Homelessness Crisis With New Strategic Plan

Simon Community, Northern Ireland’s leading homelessness charity has announced a comprehensive strategy aimed at expanding its work over the next five years. Jim Dennison, CEO of Simon Community, will outline the organisation’s new areas of focus during a speech delivered at an event at Ulster Museum today.

In his address, Dennison will highlight the scale of the issue and underscore the urgency to act now. The charity’s new strategy, entitled ‘Doing Things Differently’, will commit to delivering more preventative measures and early interventions for those at risk of homelessness, as well as offer practical housing solutions so that people can move swiftly on from temporary accommodation, breaking the cycle of homelessness as quickly as possible.

Jim Dennison, CEO of Simon Community says,

" Northern Ireland is in the midst of a housing and homelessness crisis. It demands urgent attention. With a shocking one in 34 people in Northern Ireland legally classified as homeless - including 4,500 children - and over 86,000 individuals on the social housing waiting list, the scale of the problem is genuinely staggering. And unless we do things differently, it will only get worse.

But this is not just about numbers; it's about lives. Behind these numbers are real people with hopes and dreams. The time to act is now.”

Dennison will underscore the need for increased investment in affordable housing, as well as enhanced support services to help individuals maintain their tenancies and avoid homelessness.

"Prevention is key. By intervening early and providing the necessary support, we can prevent individuals and families from falling into homelessness in the first place.”

As part of its strategy, Simon Community will issue a series of appeals to various stakeholders, including politicians, policymakers, funders, church leaders and corporate partners. Dennison called for collaborative action and renewed commitment to ending homelessness in Northern Ireland.

"We cannot solve this crisis alone," Dennison emphasised. "But together, with the support of our community and partners, we can create a future where everyone has a place to call home."

The charity has outlined five core strategic priorities to help end homelessness.

Prevention of homelessness

Stopping people becoming homeless in the first place will be a significant focus. The charity will increase support for people at risk of homelessness through quality community engagement and practical support including a homeless support line, Tenancy sustainment scheme and emergency financial interventions.

Providing the right support at the right time

Simon Community has provided temporary accommodation for those experiencing homelessness for many years. These services provide a vital lifeline for people experiencing homelessness but they do not end homelessness. Over the next five years, they will work to reduce the average length of stay for people alongside improving access and quality of temporary accommodation.

Offering solutions to end homelessness

Temporary accommodation is critical but using it for extended periods impacts mental health, wellbeing and also creates a pattern where people remain in a cycle of homelessness. Simon Community will provide permanent housing solutions by growing its Creating Homes Programme. The charity has purchased 17 properties to date and plans to scale this up significantly alongside developing a socially responsible model for private landlords.

Supporting people experiencing homelessness through Housing First will be another focused area where wrap around services are provided in partnership with local Health Trusts. Over the next five years, Simon Community aims to expand the service geographically across Northern Ireland so any person at risk will be able to access no matter where they are from.

Develop, support, and invest in our People

As well as continually engaging with the people they help to improve what they are doing, the charity has committed to investing in its employees to create a skilled, resilient, and dedicated workforce. Through a robust People Plan- the charity will be able to meet current recruitment challenges as well as upskill, encourage positive leadership, nurture employee’s wellbeing, personal development, and engagement.

Building a strong organisation for the future

Finally, the charity plans to improve governance to enhance service delivery, and build a volunteer and partner network across Northern Ireland.

The strategic plan will be launched at the Ulster Museum in Belfast where industry leaders, experts, and stakeholders will come together to explore the potential impact of Doing Things Differently in the hopes of ending homelessness together.

For more information about Simon Community’s latest strategy and to learn how you can support their valuable work please visit