Aviva launches 5 year partnership to battle child homelessness
Employees of insurance group Aviva Ireland have voted to champion the battle against child homelessness through a new 5 year partnership with the housing and homeless charity Focus Ireland. The partnership is part of Aviva’s global ‘Street to School’ initiative which aims to improve the lives of 500,000 street children and young people around the world by helping them get off the streets and into education and training.
Aviva’s partnership will support Focus Ireland’s work with over 700 children in Ireland each year who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This work includes providing permanent homes and emergency housing for children - and their families – and also support services such as its childcare and Afterschool projects.
In addition, the partnership will also specifically support a minimum of 25 children per annum through funding for a new service to support them and their families in accessing education and the supports necessary to live independently. The partnership will also involve the provision of expertise and resources from Aviva and its employees to support Focus Ireland’s delivery of existing services to children and young people who need help.
Speaking about the partnership, Dermot Browne, CEO of Aviva Ireland said: "We strongly believe that by supporting Focus Ireland we can make a real difference to the lives of disadvantaged children in Ireland. As the most vulnerable members of society, these children do not have a voice and struggle to reach out and ask for help. We will support the successful work of Focus Ireland and specifically help establish a new service to help a minimum of 25 children each year, supporting them and their families to access education and the supports necessary to live independently. ”
As well as supporting those children at risk, Aviva Ireland will also support Focus Ireland’s work to create better awareness, understanding - and prevention of homelessness through a School Visit Programme aimed at schools throughout Ireland. The visits act to support the charity’s education modules on homelessness for both primary and secondary schools.
Speaking at the launch Joyce Loughnan, CEO of Focus Ireland said: "We believe that a range of effective early intervention and preventative measures are required to substantially cut the number of children and young people who become homeless. Our work is crucial as we provide homes and support which in turn provides stability for children and young people and gives them a much better chance in life.”
"It is not over stating things to say that Aviva’s support for our work through the Street To School programme will help to directly protect many children and young people in the coming years. who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.”
One of the young people Focus Ireland has supported through its work spoke of the difficulty of growing up in State care and being homeless for a time: "When you are in care and going to school you feel very different to everyone. You feel like an alien because you know all the other kids have families and a home to go to and you don’t. I was terrible later when I was homeless for a while after leaving care but Focus Ireland supported me and now I live in one of their aftercare projects. I feel safe there.”