DCU partners with McVerry Trust for homelessness report

Tadgh McNally

Part of the By a Wall series.

Sixty three per cent of homeless males have suffered a traumatic childhood experience according to a new report by the Peter McVerry Trust.

The report, which was led by DCU’s Educational Disadvantage Centre (EDC), looks at the disadvantage that males between the ages 18 and 38 have faced within the education system.

The study cited how 25 per cent of the participants had experienced bullying while they were in school. On top of this, 35 per cent would face verbal abuse on a weekly basis.

The total sample size of this study was 51 people, but there were 171 eligible participants identified by the report.

According to the report, there was a marked difference in their experience between primary and secondary school. In primary school, 72 per cent of the sample said they had an overall positive experience, while for secondary 53.1 per cent said they had a fine or negative experience.

Alongside this, 24.5 per cent of the sample said they were temporarily excluded from school through suspensions, while 12.2 per cent had multiple suspensions. 18.4 per cent had been expelled from school at some point during their education.

Despite this, the report also found that 79 per cent of the men wanted to continue on with further education. They did mention some barriers to further education. The main barrier was their current lack of accommodation but addiction, drug use as well as health issues were also included.

The report also sets out a number of recommendations that would help alleviate the issues, such as providing better funding for emotional counselling and other therapeutic supports for children who have suffered trauma.

Other recommendations include creating an interdepartmental advisory group to develop a National Strategic Action Plan to meet all the educational needs of children and young people in care.

Authors of the report were surprised however, as learning difficulties didn’t factor in as strongly as they had expected before carrying out interviews.

Sarah Murphy, the lead author on the report explained that the men who were surveyed also wanted to see more social supports as well as emotional and social education.

At the launch of the report, Fr Peter McVerry spoke about how the education system is a “most unjust system”.

“We need to ensure that every child has a positive education experience…. We need a fundamental reform of the education system”, said Fr McVerry.

Dr Paul Downes, director of the EDC and an author of the report, explained that the Peter McVerry Trust wanted them to focus on males between 18 and 38 due to it being the largest cohort that access homeless services.

Tadgh McNally

Image Credit: Garry Knight