Pledge to tackle shelter problems
CHARITY Novas Initiatives, which runs the Arlington Lodge homeless shelter in Tralee, has admitted it didn’t realise how angry and frustrated the public has become regarding the level of anti-social behaviour that has been linked to the facility.
On Tuesday morning a group of around 40 Tralee business owners and community members met with management from Novas to discuss the severe impact they say Arlington Lodge is having on them.
There was palpable anger at the meeting, which heard emotional contributions from many business owners and town centre residents.
Several gave graphic – and often gruesome - details of anti-social behaviour they have been subjected to.
One woman who runs a small business in the town centre broke down in tears as she related her experiences.
The meeting heard numerous calls for drastic changes to how Arlington Lodge is operated.
Currently Arlington Lodge is operated as a ‘ low threshold’ shelter for residents – who in some cases may have addiction issues – that are allowed access to alcohol under a ‘ harm reduction’ care model.
Following the meeting, management at Novas Initiatives admitted they were surprised at the level of anger. Novas – who didn’t rule out the possibility of moving some residents to other facilities in the area – said it will examine all options to reduce any anti-social behaviour associated with the shelter.
Novas Initiatives’ Communications and Development Co-ordinator Una Burns – who attended Tuesday’s meeting – said the charity took the feedback very seriously.
“Obviously there are some things we have no control over, such as who is referred to us. However, we will take steps to mitigate any impact that we have control over,” she said.
“We have a very robust ‘good neighbour’ policy and if that is being contravened we will address it,” said Dr Burns.
“I think, to a certain degree, there was an awareness of some anti-social behaviour but we weren’t aware of the depth of feeling about it. We are now acutely aware of it and we will address it,” she said.
Novas has agreed to hold a second meeting with the business community before Christmas, when it will outline proposals to deal with the concerns raised on Tuesday.
Manager of Baily’s Corner public house Conor O’Donnell, who organised Tuesday’s meeting, said he appreciated Novas Initiatives’ positive response.
“We’re pleased that Novas agreed to meet us and we appreciate them coming down to meet us this morning,” he said
“Obviously everyone understands the need to look after the less fortunate people in our community, but there are a number of serious issues linked to Arlington Lodge that we feel need to be addressed urgently,” said Mr O’Donnell.
“Novas listened to our concerns and they have promised to go back and examine what they can do to resolve them. Hopefully now we’ll see some solutions,” he said.
“Some forthright views were expressed and we heard some very unpleasant stories. I think Novas understand the depth of feeling there is about the issue,” said Mr O’Donnell.