4 March 2016
Crosscare and Mercy …
The Dublin of Catherine McAuley hasn’t gone away. Dublin remains a city of opposites - wealth and glaring poverty. Those experiencing homelessness are among the most marginalised in our society. Unfortunately the homeless are ever increasing in number as we find ourselves in the grip of an unprecedented housing and homelessness crisis.
Crosscare, a better kept secret in the Not for Profit sector is the largest provider of emergency homeless accommodation in Dublin and indeed Ireland. They provide up to 380 beds per night for adults experiencing homelessness from 6 locations, the most recent being a 100 bed unit opened under the Cold Weather Initiative.
Crosscare have had very strong links with Mercy Law through Board membership, sharing of information and knowledge, training programs in advocacy and aspects of Law. Of course it doesn’t end there. Mercy has provided houses for Crosscare projects and many Sisters volunteer with Crosscare.
In 2015 alone Crosscare information and advocacy service worked with over 1,300 families and individuals who are either at risk of or experiencing homelessness. In this area alone Mercy Law Resource Centre and Crosscare work to make changes in Ireland to end the blight of homelessness and restore true dignity to people from whom it has been stripped.
Crosscare operates the largest community food bank in Ireland providing tonnes of surplus food to charitable bodies every month. They operate two community cafes providing nutritious low cost food and social supports to a range of people from their north city and south city locations. This social support agency also provide weekly emergency food/care parcels to those in need through their 7 community food banks.
Working with thousands of young people in their youth and community supports centres dotted throughout the Diocese, Crosscare also provide counselling to young people and their families and residential care to young people living out of home. The counselling is for those experiencing or trying to exit addiction, with support for carers in the home and support socially for isolated individuals through befriending services. Their community college situated on Aaron Quay- a wonderful initiative that brings together clients, workers, volunteers and friends of Crosscare to host or participate in a broad range of courses.
Mercy Law reaches out in a strategic way. Through relevant legal training and focus groups Mercy Law increases the capacity of front line homeless service providers (such as Crosscare) to respond where they see breaches in fair procedure or indeed the law and challenge this themselves on behalf of their client. They enable clients to respond with confidence and challenge decision makers where decisions are made that adversely affect a client.
Ciara McGrath (Manager of Crosscare Housing & Welfare Information and Board member of MLRC) said that Crosscare Advocacy Services have seen the significant benefits through collaborating with the Mercy Law Resource Centre. The Centre provides clarity on how to proceed in legal cases.
People who are traditionally alienated from the law are offered access by MLRC. Their situation is taken seriously. They are encouraged and supported to pursue a right or entitlement and are facilitated to take action in their situation where before they have seen themselves as powerless.
When we work together building links and collaborations like with Crosscare and Mercy law, Catherine McAuley’s dream comes true. Pope Francis’ hopes for mercy are realised.
By Anne Doyle rsm (adapted from Ciara Mc Grath's presentation-Dec 2015)
South Central Province