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Mary Hayes Interview – Beech/Maple House Homeless Hostels

Unidentified homeless couple on O'Connell Bridge, Dublin

Hello my name is Alan Finn from the Fountain News and I’m joined with Mary Hayes, from Beech House, a mixed hostel for homeless people, and Maple house a male homeless hostel for over 18’s, over on the north of the city.


Note from editor: This was originally published as part of our March 2011 ‘Fountain News’ digital newsletter, which we are re-publishing here. We have re-published it under the current date, because we think it remains relevant, plus it has been offline for a considerable amount of time.


Italics – Alan Finn
M: – Mary Hayes

Mary you see people of all backgrounds, either been made homeless or have been homeless for some time, Mary do you think we have an epidemic with homelessness or would you say it’s just a national problem.

M: What I see and what troubles me, when I see people coming into Maple House is the length of time, sometimes I see people who are 10 years homelessness and still in their 20s! So I believe there is a major problem with long term homelessness. Homelessness in most other countries is generally very short term, I think the problem here is accessing services, I think it is very hard to find a home when you have a long term drug addiction, people also find it hard to get into private rented sector.

Mary when I first met yourself, I myself was homeless, that was 2006 has there been any progress with this area?

M: The biggest change has been formulation of a plan where allot of the funding was going to emergency accommodation now is being focused on more permanent solutions. One new such scheme is the RAS scheme (Rent Allowance Scheme) which allows people to privately rent and earn a bit of money on something like a Community Employment, which means you won’t be penalised if you earn slightly more. Another major development is the change of focus to more permanent solutions such as housing.

When I left Maple house in March of 2007, I went into transition with the help of yourself and Mark, my key worker, recently I was informed that a lot of transition complexes have shut down, also I found this system very effected and it had worked in the past what happened?

M: The reason was there was a review of all homeless services and there were two things that were found. First, a number of hostels were found to be either of poor structural quality or were not providing sufficient amount of services yet were costing a lot in terms of resources. The second thing was transitional units, transitional units were only taking people who are already very stable, and it could be argued that people who are already very stable do not need transitional units and go direct into their own homes, which is beginning to happen now. Transitional housing was not taking people who had drug or alcohol addictions and we don’t want these people to remain homeless indefinitely, so a new approach is being undertaken to put these people directly into housing with the right supports available to help them through their situation. The outcome of this new approach is not yet known. The plan was never to get rid of transitional housing completely.

Sometimes, when I’m walking around the city, I come across tappers (beggars) tapping (begging) now you may get the odd real story, ( for example to book into a B+B), but a lot of times its cash to buy gear, and so on do you think this begging hinders the real people who need help? Also the (H.S.E) have a helpline to help people in these situations, what is your personal reaction to this problem also would you give cash to a tapper?

M: As someone who works in homeless services, I know a lot of tappers (begger), but sometimes it is the only legitimate way they can earn money in a week. And I don’t have a problem with it, I think the issue is more to do with addiction than say money. Most people would be aware that addiction would be the issue there most people are in receipt of a basic payment, I don’t know have anyone not in a receipt of a basic payment

The boom is over has funding been pulled out of any of your good services, and if yes where is it making a big impact?

M: The homeless budget has not been cut, which is an effective increase because the cost of services as gone down, what matters is what that funding is spent on. What I would like to see his the money spent on housing instead of hostels and temporary accommodation.

Would you vote for Brian Cowan, or Fianna Fail in any kind of election?

M: I’ve come from a family that has always voted the one way, I would like to believe that I’m open to be suede if their argument was fair, however at the moment probably not, like many people I would share their disappointment at what has happened.

If you had an injection of €50,000 euro donated to your service where in your service would you spend it and why?

M: I would like it to be spent more on the health aspects, homeless peoples’ health is very impaired and I think we need to focus on that. And I suppose another area I feel money should go on is housing.

Is the night bus service still going?

M: The Night Bus is now been operated by the Simon Community and Dublin Council will take over the phones from the HSE.

Would you have any confidence in any promises made by any T.D if they promised to help your services?

M: I’m an optimistic person, I wouldn’t take it for granted that someone will do it because they say they will do it but I do like to take people on their word. I also believe people shouldn’t make promises they can’t keep.

How many staff do you have to work with in Maple House or how many are under your good supervision?

M: There are 28 staff altogether across 3 hostels, the majority of the staff work on the maintenance of the buildings, which is not what we would like, as it means there are considerably less workers than we would like working with clients directly.

What do you think of the scandal that surrounds our government with the game of golf, and the former boss of the Anglo Irish Bank?

M: It epitomises that whole problem of men in power in respected each other so well that they never asked questions of each other. Seanie Fitzpatick thought he was brilliant he had all the important men in Ireland playing golf with him and no one questioned what he was doing. There has never been an occasion when there wasn’t a housing boom that turned into bust, I think it affected Ireland particularly bad due to culture of cronyism that was in existence at the time.

Well Mary that ends our interview I hope you enjoyed yourself as I did with you. Do you have any last throw inns on this subject or any subject?

M: You can get out of homelessness and it’s not as hard as people think.

Well readers that rap’s up our first hot seat interview, If you find your self affected by this interview or you have become homeless please telephone (H.S.E) on 1800-724-724, or if you are aged under (18) present yourself to any Guard station if possible before 9pm any night and accommodation will be sorted out for you, Also that (H.S.E.) number is a free number even if you have no credit you will get through as some mobile telephone company’s do have a standing charge but not in this case, be patience it’s a very busy line.

And Again Thanks’ To Mary Hayes.


Fountain News DigitalThis article was originally published in:
Fountain News Digital – March 2011 (Issue 3)

We are re-publishing all articles from our past newsletter, Fountain News Digital, and you can view all completed newsletters here. There were nine issues published in total between 2010 and 2012.

Timeline of our local news services (1994-2013)

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