Do you want to join us making a difference?
The Mayor of Derry and Strabane District Council will host a 24 hour Busk for homelessness at 6 pm on 17th March ’23 on the steps of the Guildhall, supported by local musical talent, organisers and businesses. All donations will be given to First Housing Aid & Support Services, as Mayor’s Charity of the year, in support of homelessness services in Northern Ireland, and every donation will help. Thank you in advance for your contribution - it means so much to us.
If you are an artist who would like to take part in the 24-hour busk, or a business that would like to get involved with sponsorship, please email [email redacted]
For more information, please visit www.derrystrabane.com/24hourbusk
First Housing Aid and Support Services (FHASS) is a voluntary sector non-profit making organisation that believes that everyone has a fundamental right to a home that is safe, secure and affordable. We focus on preventing individuals and families from becoming homeless in the first place, as well as the provision of accommodation and support to help ensure individuals achieve the skills they need to live independently in the community.
Why you should support us
There are thousands in Northern Ireland in housing crisis:
• Applicants on the social housing waiting list as of 30 September 2022 – 44,532
• Of those applicants, those considered in housing stress – 32,153
• Households accepted as homeless July to September 2022 alone – 2,310
• At the end of March 2022, the Derry and Strabane District Council area had the highest rate of those presenting as homeless
Anyone can become homeless; the most common reasons are:
• Current Accommodation is unsuitable due to physical health/disability
• Loss of private rented accommodation
• Relationship breakdowns – with partners, parents, family
• Domestic violence
• Neighbourhood harassment
Everyone has been affected by events of the past two years, and we continue to struggle with increasing living costs. Unfortunately, the most vulnerable within our communities are the most adversely affected and are at an increased risk of homelessness, putting additional pressure on homelessness services.
How First Housing can help
Case Study 1
Ann was referred to Smartmove Housing by a local political party. Ann has two children and had been renting a property from a local estate agent in North Belfast for two years when she was made redundant due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Not being in this position before, Ann was unsure who to turn to, and it wasn’t long before she found herself in rent arrears. Her landlord issued her with a 28-day Notice to Quit (NTQ).
Smartmove Housing (our private rented sector project) advised A that, due to her receiving her NTQ after 5th May 2020, it was invalid and that she should have been a 12-week minimum notice. With the notice extended, Smartmove Housing was able to assist Ann in applying for Universal Credit for the first time and the Discretionary Housing Payment. Smartmove then assisted both the landlord and tenant on how they could apply for rate relief.
Finally, Smartmove reached an agreement whereby the tenant would repay the outstanding arrears over a 6-month period which was both affordable and satisfactory to the landlord. The Notice to Quit has been withdrawn with recent changes in eviction policies being fully explained to the agent to avoid unnecessary stress and confusion.
Case Study 2
Jane needed help to move to a more affordable tenancy since her marriage ended. She also wanted to move from the area as she was isolated, and she felt the area held too many unhappy memories due to grief and other familial distress. Jane suffers from poor physical and mental health and has two children, one with special needs.
Her First Housing support worker helped her to update her NIHE housing application, liaise with Housing Associations and carry out private rented sector property searches. To support her debt and financial commitments, several grants were applied for to heat her home and help her children return to school. She also received food donations, and a referral to her requested employment training program. Long-term counselling allowed her the space and opportunity to be open about her life, address significant trauma, and turn things around.
When offered a Housing Association tenancy, she declared herself tenancy ready and eager to make a fresh start. As this property was more affordable than that shared with her husband, she was better placed to manage her household budget.
Jane - "without help from First Housing I would still be struggling emotionally and financially in my tenancy – feeling isolated and unable to cope. But I honestly got through one of the toughest periods of my life with your help. I am so grateful. Thank you so much”.
We need help more than ever to support people like Ann and Jane. In supporting our 24 Hour Busk for Homelessness, you will support us to:
• Tackle loneliness and isolation
• Ensure people are living in a suitable environment
• Improve mental and physical health and emotional well-being
• Address addiction
• Support those living in temporary accommodation
• Help people become tenancy ready, assist with their transition into a tenancy and stay safe
• Advocate and ensure people are applying for and receiving the correct benefits
• Provide ongoing support through a relationship of trust
How will the funds be used
We will continue to provide temporary supported accommodation and specialist services:
• Temporary accommodation and specialised housing projects for single-person households and families who are homeless
• Supported housing in the community for people living with mental health issues
• Specialist accommodation projects for young people leaving care, young parents and people suffering from alcohol abuse who are sleeping rough
• Family Visitor Service in partnership with Western Trust to deliver vital services to Young Parents, especially those whose Children have links to the Trust
• Deliver accommodation with support for clients waiting for permanent public sector housing. Our focus is on safety and security, and our temporary accommodation projects are staffed 24/7
• Resettlement and floating support services for young people, families and people with mental health difficulties living in the community
• Private sector housing and ’Smart Move’ Private Sector Access Schemes for people requiring immediate and permanent housing, inclusive of those excluded through legislative frameworks, namely The Homeless Persons Order (NI) 1988 amended 2003
• Mediation and tenancy support services for tenants living in the private rented sector
• Property management and landlord support services
• Night Support Services and outreach support to rough sleepers and people with chronic alcohol issues in need of help and support
• Services to provide young people that are homeless, helping to target barriers to education, training, and employment
• Support to those residing in Bed and Breakfast and other dispersed temporary accommodation where no other support is available
Help us put people first – Support homelessness – Support First Housing