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New ‘Teen Room’ adds to Sophia House’s fight against homelessness

The new 'Teen Room' at Sphia House on Cork Street. Photgraph by Darragh Mowlds

The new ‘Teen Room’ at Sophia House on Cork Street. Photograph by Darragh Mowlds

New  ‘Teen Room’ aims to curb anti-social behaviour, but this is just part of the work done at The Sophia House Project, writes Darragh Mowlds.

 

The opening of a new ‘Teen Room’ brought The Sophia Housing Project on Cork Street into the public eye, however it didn’t show the amazing work the centre does on a daily basis.

Head of fundraising, Paul Ahearne said that the initiative provides “a safe place for people who have experienced homelessness or are at risk of experiencing homelessness.”

Though the charity is funded in part by the HSE and The Department of Youth Affairs, it is largely funded by public donations, generous benefactors and fundraising events. One such event was a concert in Whelan’s featuring Mary Coughlan at the end of November.

One particularly generous benefactor donated money for them to build the Wisdom Centre. This is where most of the counselling sessions and extra facilities such as yoga and other therapy sessions take place.

The Sophia Project was initially started in 1999 by Sr Jean Quinn and Eamon Martin. Despite her religious background, Sr Quinn and the charity make it clear that they are not a Catholic Charity, and are open to all members of the community who may need support.

The former convent situated on the site is now used as a conference centre and office space for the charity with all the paintings which adorn the walls being painted by residents of the centre.

The Cork Street project was officially opened in September 2007 with the aim of giving people a “second chance in life” and to “provide somewhere to call home again.”

The former convent is now used as a conference centre and office space. All the paintings which adorn the walls have been painted by residents of the centre.

The community is made up of 50 separate apartments, all of which are occupied. Mr Ahearne explained that there is a diverse mix of ages and cultures within the apartments. Larger families, single mothers and single occupants are all accommodated in the Cork Street facility.

Unlike some of the Sophia centres, Cork Street’s residents are generally long term. This adds to the community aspect of the centre.

Although all the apartments are individual units, there are also communal spaces where people can socialise.

Along with the apartments, the charity provides some amazing facilities for its residents. The crèche and nurturing centre not only offers childcare facilities but also parenting classes. Other facilities such as the yoga room and art therapy classes have had an “immeasurable impact on the lives of people who ordinarily would never be involved in these activities.”

Each resident has a “care package” designed for them to deal with their own individual needs.

The “Teen Room” which has brought about recent publicity for the centre is the latest facility the centre offers. The room was designed and funded by Notre Dame University through their Alumni system, in conjunction with the youth and development organisation Localise.

The charity hopes that it will “encourage them to develop as teenagers and not to get involved in any anti-social behaviour that goes on around the local area,” according to Mr Ahearne.

The need for the room arose because the teens have simply “outgrown the crèche and nurturing facilities we provide.”

He feels the room is important because it provides “a facility so they feel that they’re apart of the community and their needs are being addressed.”

Coming up to Christmas, homelessness always comes into the public consciousness. Although at the Sophia House it’s business as usual, the staff still want to make sure that their residents have the “the best Christmas possible”.

For the younger children that live there, they want to assure that “Santa knows that they are here.”

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