Every year, over 4000 men and women are forced to seek help from homeless services across Dublin. One centre that has been working tirelessly to accommodate many of these individuals is the Granby Centre – and today (Thursday April 24) it will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
The Salvation Army lifehouse has been helping people get their lives back on track since 1994. But it offers more than just accommodation for those in need of housing, with activities and training given to help improve service users' self-esteem, mental health and employment prospects.
The Dublin centre looks after 101 men and women who are either homeless or have been living in unsuitable housing and have high support needs.
One resident, who asked not to be named, came to the Granby Centre at the age of 25. He had spent several months in prison and later at a treatment centre for alcoholism.
He said: "Being referred to the Granby Centre was the start of a new life. Before then I had been an alcoholic, which affected my relationships with my family, especially my son who had learning difficulties. Soon after I began drinking, I lost my job.
"A couple of years later I was referred to the Granby Centre and given a keyworker. Unfortunately I returned to the booze but my keyworker stuck by me and thanks to that support and God, I was able to change my life.
"Every day I grew stronger and I eventually became the residents' representative on the centre's health and safety group. That was followed by a social studies course at college.
"Now I have a flat in Dublin, my life back, my son back, my family back. I have freedom and fulfilment in life. With support from the Granby Centre I am now filled with hope for the future.”
Margaret Doyle, manager of the Granby Centre, said: “The lifehouse has changed over the years but throughout that time it has remained dedicated to caring for people who are vulnerable or in need.
“Like all Salvation Army centres across the Republic and the UK, we are there when people need us. We don’t judge or condemn but offer compassionate support and practical help.
“Poverty, drugs and alcohol abuse is having a devastating effect on the fabric of society in Dublin and the Republic of Ireland. But The Salvation Army is working to show that there is a different way for people to live their lives. I’m proud to be part of that.”
To celebrate the anniversary, an afternoon celebration with invited guests will be held at the Granby Centre on Thursday April 24.
Major Stuart Dicker, Spiritual Director at the centre, said: “During the afternoon we will have opportunity to reflect upon the past, celebrate the present day work and look to the future.
“There are many residents who have personal hobbies and their work will be shown as will the results of the pottery and art classes that are held weekly.
“We will be welcoming to Dublin the Director of the Salvation Army Homelessness Services and other managers. The first managers of the centre will be returning as will those who assisted with the building of the centre, whose work brought to reality the vision to serve the people of Dublin”