By Cormac Kirwan, CEO of ONE
Photo/Graphics by Wayne Fitzgerald
Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann (Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel – ONE) is a Veterans Organisation, a Registered Charity, a Company Limited by Guarantee, an Approved Housing Body, and a Sustainable Energy Community for veterans of the Defence Forces.
ONE was established on 10 March 1951 and the primary objective is to “Support the needs of Irish veterans by the provision of accommodation to homeless and other veterans in need of such domestic accommodation in its Veterans’ Homes and the provision of other advice and support to veterans through its nationwide network of Branches and Veterans Support Centres”. Comradeship, Advocacy, and Remembrance are ancillary objectives. Our services are available to all veterans of the Defence Forces and we facilitate veterans from other countries from time to time.
ONE’s current capacity provides accommodation (board and lodging) for 51 veterans, who would otherwise be homeless, in its four residential homes in Athlone, Cobh, Dublin and Letterkenny. ONE is developing its fifth home in Cork City which is scheduled to open by the end of 2023 and two further homes in Limerick and Kildare which we plan to open in 2024. ONE has also developed a nationwide network of Branches and Veterans’ Support Centres and has a counselling service for veterans of the Defence Forces.
HOMES FOR VETERANS
The provision of board and lodging is currently achieved through our homes in Athlone, Cobh, Dublin, and Letterkenny. The Dublin home (Brú na bhFiann) is located in Smithfield and has thirty five bedrooms dedicated to homeless veterans. The home in Letterkenny (Brú Doire Feá) has six bedrooms, while Athlone (Brú Chostúim) and Cobh (Brú na Farraige) can each facilitate five veterans. ONE continued its programme of improving its current homes in 2022, supported by the Department of Defence through the Dormant Account Funds, with over €115,000 invested in capital improvement projects.
Our fifth home in Cork City (Brú Uí Choileáin) with six bedrooms is being developed in partnership with Cork City Council and is scheduled to open by the end of 2023.
Our sixth home in Limerick (Brú an tSáirséalaigh) with five bedrooms is being developed in partnership with Limerick City and County Council and the Department of Defence, and ONE’s seventh home in Kildare (to be named) with six bedrooms is being developed in partnership with Kildare County Council. By the end of 2024, ONE will have sixty eight single bedrooms for homeless veterans nationwide with a target of having eighty bedrooms by the end of 2026 with further developments in Galway and Louth.
Ryan & McConnell (2015) identified that it costs approximately €32,000 a year for every homeless person. While ONE receives funding through the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive in support of our home in Dublin, none of our other homes receive state funding for running costs. ONE pays approximately €7,700 net annually per homeless veteran in our homes outside of Dublin exclusive of residents’ contributions. This costing per homeless veteran represents significant value for money.
VETERAN SUPPORT CENTRES AND BRANCHES
ONE has developed a nationwide network of Veteran’s Support Centres to provide veterans with information, advice, someone to listen and somewhere to meet with former comrades. Our Veteran Support Centres are seen as a cross between a meeting place and an advice centre and provides valuable support within the veteran community.
Early intervention alleviates social stresses and significantly reduces homelessness among veterans. Veteran Support Centres staffed by volunteer members are now located in: Athlone; Athy; Casement Aerodrome; Cathal Brugha Bks, Dublin; Cavan; Cobh; Collins Bks, Cork: Curragh Camp; Dundalk; Finner Camp, Donegal; Galway; Kilkenny; Limerick; McKee Bks, Dublin; and Wexford. Of the fifteen Veteran Support Centres, eleven are located within a Defence Forces installation, with four located outside – Athy, Cavan, Cobh and Limerick. In addition to our Veteran Support Centres, ONE has developed a nationwide network of thirty-eight Branches which primarily provide comradeship to veterans.
VETERAN COUNSELLING SERVICE
ONE offers a counselling service and is there to listen and to provide veterans with direct access to a designated Veteran Support Team and ONE’s Confidential Counselling Service.
Full time Veteran Support Officers (Counsellors) are in:
- Head Office in partnership with the Leopardstown Park Hospital Trust.
- Brú na bhFiann (Dublin) in partnership with the HSE Dublin North Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO).
- Southern Area Council in partnership with the Tomar Trust and Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO) from 01 April 2023.
- Business Cases were submitted to Cork / Kerry CHO and Sth Dublin, Kildare and West Wicklow CHO for ‘Grant Aid’, similar to HSE Dublin North CHO, to employ Veteran Support Officers in those CHOs.
It costs over €1,100,000 per annum for current services, not including capital costs.
ONE receives approximately €475,000 from State / Local Authority funding annually in respect of those services. Therefore considerable funding must be raised. Funding streams are volatile in nature and while we can plan expenditure, planning income is a far greater challenge. ONE will therefore continue to develop more predictable funding streams.
ONE would love to forecast an end to the plight of homeless veterans but we believe the situation will continue to dis-improve. This, coupled with other challenges facing veterans, is why we are constantly developing our services. In 2023 ONE will:
- Further develop ONE’s counselling service for veterans throughout Ireland who need such a service, including a 24/7 helpline capability.
- Continue to improve the facilities in our existing homes, including an Energy Master Plan in partnership with the SEAI.
- Complete the development of a fifth home; Brú Uí Choileáin in Cork City with six bedrooms for homeless veterans and complete the planning of our sixth and seventh homes which we plan to open in Limerick and Kildare in 2024.
- Further the development of our fifteen Veteran Support Centres and open further Centres as required.
- Complete further courses of training/education in Mental Health First Aid and other associated programmes.
- Further progress a strategy to ensure that ONE is a diverse and inclusive Veteran’s Organisation that draws from the breadth of those who served in the Defence Forces; gains strength from that range of knowledge, experience and talent; and welcomes, respects and values the unique contribution of every individual.
- Continue to implement ONE’s Strategic plan – ONE75 – that charts the future of the organisation out to 2026, the 75th anniversary of its founding.
Finance is required to support many of the foregoing initiatives. New marketing and fundraising initiatives will be launched during 2023, including Hope Couture, and your enduring support is deeply appreciated.
ONE, whose primary pillar is the provision of support for veterans in Ireland, also fosters comradeship, advocates on behalf of veterans, and remembers those who served. We will be successful when we can grow the level of support to veterans through our Homes, Branches, Veteran Support Centres and Counsellors, while ensuring that we comply with all governance provisions.
The online version of An Cosantóir is available here: https://digital.jmpublishing.ie/i/1508871-an-cosantoir-july-august-2023/0?
DefenceForces #Veterans #Charity #SleepingFlags #Homeless #Homelessness #HomelessnessAwareness #Veteran #Housing #Home #Fundraising #Help #Funding #Donations #Fuchsia #FuchsiaAppeal #SCAR #Support #Comradeship #Advocacy #Remembrance