NI charity celebrates successful completion of ‘keys to life’ homeless intervention programme
The Northern Ireland Institute for the Disabled (NIID) has completed a major brand new initiative aimed at helping residents at its Belfast homeless hostel transition to independent living and to remain there. Entitled “Keys to Life” the project at Utility Street Hostel, Belfast was officially launched in November by South Belfast MP, Emma-Little Pengelly. The project was designed to equip residents with new skills as well as target prominent issues within the homeless community such as mental health, self-esteem and independent living. Learning modules ranged from communicating with others and skills for the kitchen to building confidence and self-esteem. After taking part in the programme participant Paul commented: “My time here is a staging post on the road of life to the next chapter and I’m making the best use of it. It’s about using this time to understand how I got here and how I get to the next stage in my life, because life is a journey. Every day is a new day now and the opportunities are there.” NIID Chief Executive, Sam Humphries said: “We are incredibly proud of how successful the Keys to Life programme has been. In the initial stages of planning, everyone involved agreed that if it could positively change even just one individual’s life for the better it would be worthwhile. To come to the end of the programme and see 32 men gain vital life skills that will help them on their journey to independent living is a fantastic result. “One of the programme’s participants has already found employment and we hope that he is the first of many.” NIID is hosting a graduation event at Crumlin Road Gaol for the programme’s participants on the 9th May to recognise the achievements of all those who took part and encourage each of them to continue on in their personal journey of self-development. The event will include an awards ceremony, refreshments and a tour of the building. NIID has been involved with providing homeless support to the people of Belfast since its inception in 1878. The current provision operates from a facility built in 1982, the Utility Street Men’s Hostel has been providing support to service users for over 35 years through a dedicated team of professional support workers available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.