MLRC holds training session on housing law for staff of the Dublin Simon Community

As part of MLRC’s work, we provide training in housing law to organisations working in the field of homelessness. On 22nd January, MLRC held a full day training session in housing law & related social welfare law for the staff of the Dublin Simon Community.

The Dublin Simon Community works to prevent and address homelessness in Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow. They provide services at all stages of homelessness and enable people to move to a place they can call home. By listening to people they do everything to support homeless people to move to independent living, striving to empower people to access, secure and retain a home of their own by reducing the reliance on short-term emergency accommodation and providing permanent supported housing.

Our training session for the Dublin Simon Community gave practical advice and information to help staff deal effectively with client’s varied housing issues. In particular staff noted the following items as being particularly useful to explore and understand:

• Fair procedures

• Clarity around the new Housing Assistance Payment

• Tenancy warning system and eviction procedures, though not yet in force, under the new Housing Act

• Appeals procedures and how to request information from State bodies

• Better knowledge of what Mercy Law Resource Centre can assist with

• The avenues a tenant can proceed with regarding housing issues and the Council

• Proportionality & fair procedures

• Need for assistance letter from the Council for a separated partner

• Understanding of tenant’s rights regarding issues of anti-social behaviour

Attendees gave constructive and positive feedback, noting that the training session was very interesting, enjoyable and engaging. Attendees found the case studies especially to be very informative and interactive; and that the excellent facilitator was very knowledgeable with some really helpful referrals to other useful resources and organisations.

If you are interested in arranging a MLRC training session on Housing Law & Related Social Welfare Law for your organisation, please contact Shauna on 01 4537459 or at shauna@mercylaw.ie. We would be very happy to hear from you and discuss the training that would be most useful for you.

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MLRC welcomes Rebecca Keatinge as solicitor with MLRC

MLRC is delighted to welcome Rebecca Keatinge as our new solicitor and colleague.

Rebecca is a solicitor with extensive experience in immigration and human rights law. She graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 2002 with a BA in History and Political Science. She then moved to London and completed an MSc in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in 2004.

After working briefly for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in London, Rebecca joined the legal aid charity Refugee and Migrant Justice in London as an Appeals Caseworker and Team Leader, providing legal advice and representation to vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees. She then worked for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Cambodia.

In 2010, Rebecca joined Brophy Solicitors in Dublin and apprenticed with the firm. In 2010, Rebecca was awarded the Law Society EU law prize for the highest mark in the First Examination EU law exam. In 2012, she was a prize-winner in the Law Society Client Consultation competition. She qualified as a solicitor in December 2013. During her time at Brophy Solicitors, she worked predominantly in the areas of immigration and human rights.

Rebecca has also been involved with several charities including the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture, Legal Aid of Cambodia, mental health charity Aware, and Irish charity Ruhama. She was previously a member of the Anti-Trafficking Legal Group (ATLEP). Rebecca is currently a member of the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA).

We look forward to working with Rebecca to build on MLRC’s work helping those who are on the margins of our society.

 

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MLRC thanks our Befrienders and Maureen Sheehy for supporting our Befriending Service at an excellent training day in January

MLRC’s Befriending service is a unique service that is central to our work in helping those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. MLRC has been in existence since 2009 and has an average of seven to 10 Befriendees a year. Some clients are fairly short term but we have a core of longer term clients who appreciate the support given and remain with their Befriender for a longer period. This service is offered to clients who seem to be relatively unsupported by family or other organisations and find it difficult to follow through with the legal process. Clients vary greatly, some have literacy difficulties, others relatively mild mental health difficulties, emotional difficulties, relationship difficulties, language difficulties, others may be victims of domestic violence or just people who have fallen on hard times and find it difficult to cope. We network with some Counselling services or Mediation services when it seems necessary or useful.

In January, MLRC were delighted to welcome on board three new Befrienders to our group of Befriender volunteers. The new Befrienders attended a special training day on Saturday 24th January 2015, given by Maureen Sheehy. Some of our existing Befrienders attended to refresh their skills and share experiences and a number of MLRC staff members also attended. The interaction between the previous Befrienders and the new Befrienders greatly enhanced the work of the day which seemed to fly by as everyone was so involved. Humour greatly enhanced the day!

Maeve Regan, MLRC Managing Solicitor, kick started the training session by welcoming the Befrienders and she gave an introductory overview of MLRC and the reason why Befrienders are so important to the service.

Maureen Sheehy then took over the reins and worked principally through various stimulating exercises and role play. As a Befriender is required to be an empathetic listener, Maureen firstly concentrated on the importance and cultivation of listening skills. Maureen then moved on to explain the need to establish clear boundaries for both Befrienders and their Befriendees for their mutual benefit and safety. The workshop also included role-playing so as to learn how to cope with difficult and challenging situations.

Caitriona O’Hara, MLRC Befriending Service Co-ordinator, concluded the day by outlining the Basic Guidelines for the new group, which included:

  • The Befriender’s meeting place should be in a public place, eg coffee shop, not in a pub.
  • Initially the meetings are regular, once a week if possible to establish a rapport.
  • Mobile numbers should only be given out when a relationship seems safe.
  • Never get involved in lending money.
  • Always refer anything unusual to the Managing Solicitor or Co-ordinator.

Caitriona ended the workshop by thanking the group for their generosity in volunteering.

This annual training day always proves extremely helpful in developing skills and preparing Befrienders for the task in hand. MLRC extends a huge thanks to all our Befrienders, for their care and compassion of our more vulnerable clients and MLRC would like to thank Maureen Sheehy for an interactive, interesting and worthwhile training day.

 

A brief background on Maureen Sheehy

Maureen Sheehy has worked as a facilitator/trainer with community groups, statutory bodies, institutions and organizations in the North & South of Ireland, in England, Scotland, Wales, Nigeria, Botswana, Transvaal South Africa, U.S., Guatemala and Australia. Through an EU programme she facilitated workshops in Norway, Greece, Slovakia and Lithuania. As a writer/researcher she has written magazine articles, TV & Film scripts. More recently she wrote one and co-wrote a second Community Education Training Handbook. She currently works freelance as a community education trainer, a facilitator, and as a writer.

 Befrienders hands

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Alice Leahy (Trust) talks to MLRC’s Gathering

MLRC were delighted to host another Christmas event, which gave us an opportunity in an informal way to thank friends, funders, befrienders, interns along with members of the Board and staff for their work and support during the year, which has kept Mercy Law Resource Centre in a position to continue to offer free legal advice and representation at a time when our services are more vital than ever.

We were delighted that Alice Leahy of Trust could make time in her busy schedule to talk to our gathering about her work with the homeless over the years, a very lovely piece, which moved all gathered.  Alice spoke with such true empathy and love, she is truly inspiring.  Entitled “Wasting Time with People?” you can read Alice Leahy’s presentation here.

To see MLRC’s Presentation on the night please click here.

(l-r) Helena O’Donoghue (Chair, MLRC Board), Alice Leahy (Trust), Jo Kennedy (MLRC Board)

(l-r) Helena O’Donoghue (Chair, MLRC Board), Alice Leahy (Trust), Jo Kennedy (MLRC Board)

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All information provided on this Blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or a legal contract between this Blog and any person or entity unless otherwise specified. Click here to read more.