Extern helps Belfast Met social work students ‘join the dots’ around homelessness during HAW17

Extern helps Belfast Met social work students ‘join the dots’ around homelessness during HAW17

First year Social Work students at Belfast Met have welcomed Extern Homes manager, Declan Morris, to the College as part of Homelessness Awareness Week or HAW17.

Organised by Gerry Skelton, social work lecturer at Belfast Met, the event encouraged students to join the dots around key areas of social work and social care practice and homelessness.

Supported by Charity Bank, the Extern Homes initiative is a first for Northern Ireland. Extern, as the leading social justice charity, has purchased houses to create homes for people who are homeless, or who are at risk of homelessness, giving them a chance to rebuild their lives in a supported tenancy for up to two years. The homes come with wraparound support services, including access to training and employment opportunities.

As Manager of Extern Homes, Declan Morris, spoke to first year social students about how issues they will study including mental health, addiction, and family breakdown, can all play a role when a person finds themselves homeless, and that it is vital that people, particularly professionals working in the sector, see the person first and issues second. He also spoke about the wider work Extern undertakes around homelessness including its Multidisciplinary Homeless Support Team and Floating Support Services which provide assistance, support and advocacy to adults and families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, Extern’s hostels which offer temporary accommodation and support to adults who are homeless, and Extern’s services for asylum seekers and refugees who are affected by homelessness.

Speaking about the event, Gerry Skelton, said: “I was delighted to welcome Declan Morris into the College once again, to continue our respective challenging of the spectre of homelessness, and the fundamental role social work has in responding to this. This was especially important not only because this is the 2017 Homelessness Awareness Week campaign, but also because the increasing number of people threatened with or currently experiencing homelessness, in all its guises, is becoming increasingly alarming. I am also grateful to have played a small part in the development of Extern Homes, and it was great for the students to hear about this aspect of Declan’s current work, alongside his previous history as one of the best homelessness prevention practitioners I have had the pleasure of working alongside.”

Declan Morris, Extern Homes Manager, added: “I am grateful to the first year social work students at Belfast Met for the enthusiasm and engagement shown during my meeting with them today, and to Gerry Skelton for his invite to speak during this year’s Homelessness Awareness Week. In addition to providing a myriad of services across the homelessness and social care sector across the island of Ireland, Extern is also the leading provider of social work placements in the voluntary sector, and particularly in relation to homelessness, so events like these play an important role in enabling us to continue to connect our work and raise awareness of key frontline issues with future practitioners.”

Further information on Extern Homes is available online at http://www.extern.org/what-we-do/extern-homes-appeal

Further information on studying Social Work at Belfast Metropolitan College can be found here http://www.belfastmet.ac.uk

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