[UPDATE: Great news, as of 12:12pm Friday 30 March, this project is fully funded, thanks to 72 generous supporters. We’re grateful to everyone who’s helped make this happen! Now we’ll get to work on the survey.]
“What I would love is for somebody to fund a customer-satisfaction survey amongst homeless people using emergency hostels,” said Fr Peter McVerry. So we’ve decided to try to do it.
Market-research company Amárach Research has quoted us €2,250 to survey 150 people who are homeless to get their views on emergency accommodation and the freephone service in Dublin. But we’re small and we can’t afford to cover the cost of this project ourselves.
So we’ve been crowdfunding the money to cover the cost. Will you chip in €10, €20, €50 or whatever you can spare to help make it happen?
In our reporting on homelessness in the city, people have told us they’re unhappy with the freephone system for allocating beds in hostels, and the hostels themselves.
Last November, when the people in those in tents along the Royal Canal were living under threat of eviction, some said they were unwilling to go into emergency accommodation. Calling the freephone each day to get a bed is a “waste of time”, or the hostels are “rough” and plagued by drug-use, some say.
Others have said that the night-time only hostels are tough if you get sick – because you still have to leave in the morning – or if you’re trying to hold down a job. Others say they steer clear because they don’t want their belongings to be stolen.
It’s unclear, though, whether these are just a handful of people who’ve had bad experiences, or whether there are systemic problems with homeless services in Dublin.
The Dublin Region Homeless Executive has a system for reporting complaints, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Some say that they feel scared to complain to DRHE, and, in fact, there were no official complaints about the freephone service in 2016.
Although we might be able to stretch our small team at Dublin Inquirer to do some sort of survey ourselves, Amárach is far better qualified when it comes to market-research, having done it for Microsoft, AIB, the Central Bank, An Post and many other organisations in recent years.
With a record like that, their results would be hard to argue with, or shrug off. And we hope these results would provide valuable information to policymakers, and perhaps to the DRHE itself, that could help make things a little better for people who are having a hard time and are forced to rely on these services.
We’re working with people who’ve been through the system to design the survey, and sorting out the practicalities of when, where, how, and so on. (If you have ideas for places to talk to people, let us know.)
We’re going to keep this crowdfunding effort going through the end of March. If we haven’t raised enough by then to do the survey, we’ll return your money to you.