Part of the reason the Simon Community started was because Anton Wallich-Clifford, who was a UK probation officer, came to Ireland to find the source of the problem that he found in prisons, hospitals and everywhere else in the UK. Unfortunately, some of those problems still exist. We have our own detox, rehab and aftercare facilities which have been in place for some time and have been the great saviour of many people.
On the services available in Dublin and in the regions, all of the hospitals with which we have a relationship have needle exchanges, harm reduction and wet rooms. We welcome people with all levels of difficulty, whether it is substance or alcohol abuse or otherwise. The idea is to get to people at the crisis stage, stabilise them and give them support. Support means that they are supported in long-term residential accommodation because they have critical needs of which they cannot manage elsewhere or that they are brought into their own housing with whatever supports are needed.
I have been critically involved in the Dublin plan and it is the opposite to a revolving door. There is an architecture, structure and proper standards in place. There are standards for tenancy and the premises in which people live. The critical issue for us is that to make that happen we need housing. To establish strategies to proceed on that basis we need to de-stack private emergency accommodation or long-term shelters which, unfortunately, we have put in place for cold weather. One would think housing is readily available at this time but we have other conundrums such as the financial situation, the developments which are stuck in NAMA, the banks which have no money and will not support leasing arrangements. In addition, people hold differing views on whether leasing will work.
That has caused the plan to slow down a bit. It is critically important that the homeless agency is given the full support of all Deputies in the Dáil because if, for some reason, it could be put aside because of changes on 1 January, the plan could not be completed. The plan is unique in the public and private service. All organisations, including local authorities who have come together, the HSE and NGOs, are part of the plan. It is a plan which is totally supported in Dublin. It has regionalised the contact and outreach teams, the support for prevention and a lot of areas which were focused on Dublin city or some of the local authorities.
A critical element is localisation, to which Deputy O'Connor referred. We are very precious in some areas and we believe that we cannot have a service in our backyard or that it was not invented here. As a country and individuals we have to get over that attitude because the great things about the hostels and accommodation we now have is that we are bringing in people to stabilise them. We have a hostel on Harcourt Street which is just five doors from Copper Face Jacks. There will always be more noise coming out of Copper Face Jacks than from No. 27 Harcourt Street. It is amazing what happens there. Instead of people being down a lane, with their difficulties and vulnerabilities, they are inside in the wet room or the day room with nurses close at hand, because we have those facilities there. It is critical that we have this hostel.
It is also critical that we open up our successes to communities as much as we can, because we are all about successes. I know the situation in Tallaght and Clondalkin. When I was out with the South Dublin County Council estate management group last week I was talking to them about this. We must make people aware that homeless people could have been any one of us. The longer we keep people homeless and stack them up in homelessness the longer it will take to move them to the next best place.
We know alcoholics and people who take drugs and who live in their communities. They never became homeless. They live at home happily and get support. When one is homeless one is totally lonely. One has no hope and is beset by all kinds of difficulties.
The plan that is happening in Dublin is important. I share it with my colleagues and we believe in it. Everybody has different views of how it would fit in their community but we believe it is critical to have a plan. The infrastructure is right and the machine is there and is working with the local authorities, the public service and non-governmental organisations to make it work. We are committed to it.
We need to move on the housing piece. Unless we open up what I call the back end we will not de-stack the places that were put in under the cold weather strategies of the last five years. We have a number of shelters. We have, at least, moved them all to 1 a.m. closing. However, some time ago I brought the Minister of State, Deputy Finneran, around them. At that time people went in at 9 o'clock at night and had to be out at 9 o'clock in the morning. That is not civilised.