Thank you Mr President 

Happy to second this motion from the Hon. Member for Arbory, Malew and Castletown Mr. Moorhouse, in order to have this very important discussion and debate around “Homelessness” here on the Isle of Man. 

The motion calls on Tynwald to provide greater support for people who find themselves homeless on our island, which I fully support. 

I am also grateful to the Hon Member for Douglas North Mr. Ashford for publishing the Homelessness Strategy late last night, which I will read in greater detail over the next few days.    

Unlike the UK and other jurisdictions, I think it is also vitally important that we acknowledge from the outset that the Isle of Man does not have a significantly high number of people walking the streets at night.  

Based on the information that I have gathered or received over the past couple of weeks from various charities and organisations, anyone who has asked for help or advice is receiving that care and support, and that may include the provision of emergency accommodation if required…

…and therefore I would like to put record my sincere thanks to various Government Departments and Boards, but importantly the third sector especially Housing Matters, the Broadway Church in Douglas and the Salvation Army who continue to do a fantastic job on behalf of our Community. 

However, that doesn’t mean we do not have a homeless situation on the Isle of Man, and we shouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge that point publicly… 

….Unfortunately, every individual that finds themselves with “No Fixed Adobe” or “Homeless” on the island is very different, and each individual will have their own set of challenges and difficulties to overcome. 

We also have to acknowledge the fact that not everyone is ready to accept advice, support and help at a particular moment in time…

However, is a Government and as a Community we have to put in place the infrastructure, the services and support to provide a very clear pathway back to independent living when an individual is committed to moving on. 

The President 

I think the most important point that we all should remember is the fact that homelessness has a devastating impact on the individual…

….and the fact that the individual also loses any right to privacy and potential employment opportunities – it can also lead to re-offending, physical and mental health concerns, and possibly even alcohol and drug use. 

As elected Members of this Court, we are all aware that some individuals are more at risk of being pushed into a homelessness situation than others, especially for those individuals that leave prison or for those individuals within our communities that have mental health concerns or for those individuals that suffer from an addiction such as alcohol or drugs. 

However, on occasion some people can find themselves homeless for a far simpler reason… 

…such as low paid employment opportunities, redundancy, poor financial management, ill health, a marriage or relationship breakdown or simply due to poor quality or insecure housing options. 

Mr President 

From speaking to Housing Matters recently, they have confirmed that there are currently around 43 people with “no fixed abode” on the island, and many of those individuals have found themselves homeless simply due to the breakdown within the family environment, which is so important especially for our young adults….

Based on my own life experience, many of these individuals are simply looking for support and long term accommodation options, in order to help develop the necessary skills to live independently, and thereafter make a positive contribution to our community. 

The Hon Member for Arbory, Malew and Castletown moving the motion today is also asking for the creation of a “night shelter”, and although some provision may be required for the foreseeable future, I personally don’t believe a night shelter is the long term solution here. 

The UK Housing Act 1996 outlines very clearly that a person does not need to be sleeping rough to be legally classed as “homeless”, the Act defines a person to be homeless if they have no accommodation available to occupy or are at risk of violence or domestic abuse.  

Homelessness impacts different people in many different ways, and in many ways our homeless situation here on the Isle of Man is much more hidden. 

This is mainly due to the fact that many of those individuals that we would be described as homeless rely heavily on friends and other family members for “sofa surfing”, and this is simply due to the fact that they cannot access suitable accommodation here on the island. 

The reason why I do not believe a “Night Shelter” is the long term solution to homelessness is because people who find themselves homeless or with no fixed abode are not just looking for one night’s accommodation…

….what they are actually looking for is a “front door to a better future”…

…and I call upon the Chief Minister and this Government to help deliver that promise within this administration.  

In the Channel Islands they have a scheme called the “Resettlement Project”, and I would urge the Chief Minister, the Council of Ministers and the Housing and Community Board to look very closely at this particular project, which was opened in 2001. 

The Resettlement Project doesn’t offer a single night’s accommodation unless it is required, instead it provides support and accommodation for people who have experience of, or are at risk of being homeless – but importantly the project is for those individuals that are committed to moving on. 

As I have already mentioned, the project aim is to create a clear pathway by supporting the individuals, and importantly empowering them with the necessary skills to live independently. 

At the same time the individuals can access various services, training and advice on finance and employment opportunities etc. 

Unfortunately, the Isle of Man is significantly behind other jurisdictions in respect of addressing our concerns around “Homelessness”, and as a Community, a Government and a Parliament we have to address these genuine concerns being raised within this administration, especially when we all know that nearly all cases of homelessness especially on our small island are preventable…  

Thank you Mr President