Novas launches 2020 Annual Report

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the extraordinary pressures it placed on homeless services during 2020, Novas worked with more people than ever before. Some 5,701 people were in receipt of support during the year, an 8% increase from the previous 12-month period and a rise of 493% since 2010.

The biggest demand for support was across the organisation’s tenancy sustainment and family support services. With schools and childcare facilities closed, low-income families were unable to access supports such as breakfast and afterschool clubs. Food poverty was a bigger issue than ever before for such households and demand for food parcels, hot meal deliveries and basic toiletry and childcare items rose sharply.

For the third successive year, the organisation provided support to more than 1,000 children across counties Limerick, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Tipperary and Dublin. Some 1,136 children in 445 families across the country were in receipt of support throughout the year.

Head of Policy and Communications with the organisation, Dr. Una Burns, described 2020 ‘as a year like no other.’ She explained how ‘so many of practices had to be reconfigured to meet new infection control measures. It was an extremely difficult time for the people who access our services and for our staff working on the frontline. We were very fortunate to be in a position to maintain service delivery throughout the crisis and keep levels of infection across our services very low. However, the period was extraordinarily difficult for our clients whose social isolation and marginalization was compounded by service closures. Their already limited support networks were diminished further and human connection was minimized’.

Despite the challenges posed throughout the year, the organisation continued to provide accommodation to those who needed it the most. In response to the crisis, Novas opened a cocooning service in Dublin and extended its night shelter in Limerick to provide 24/7 care and support to clients, in conjunction with its statutory partners.

Mayor of Limerick, Daniel Butler, who officially launched the report, ‘commended the work of the organisation during the period, noting the excellent collaboration between the organisation, the city council and the HSE in keeping some of the most vulnerable people in our community safe during unprecedented times’.