Sr Stanislaus Kennedy founded Focus Ireland following her research into the needs of women experiencing homelessness in Dublin in the 1980s. Through her research, Sr Stan realised the importance of involving people who are homeless, or have been directly affected by homelessness, in the development of homelessness services.
In 1985, two years after the initial research Focus Ireland opened its doors in Dublin. The organisation provided advice, information, advocacy and help with finding a home – as well as a warm welcoming place to meet and have a low-cost meal.
Since its foundation, Focus Ireland’s services have continued to grow and our research and advocacy work ensures that the rights of people who are homeless remain on the political agenda. In addition to our Dublin projects, we now have services and housing projects across much of Ireland.
Homelessness is one of the most urgent social problems in Ireland today. There are risk factors which are clearly impacting on certain groups. Many families that become homeless are headed by lone mothers. This group is characterised by poverty, poorer working conditions, lack of financial resources, insecure housing and under-representation in higher education.
With INVOLVE, Focus Ireland seeks to engage a group of lone mothers with experience of homelessness to coproduce recommendations to improve access to and retention in higher education for lone parents and to make a real change in how social services enable participation of marginalised groups in higher education. This is of strategic importance to Focus Ireland as higher education qualifications can lead to improved quality of life which in turn prevents people from returning to homelessness.