The vision of ‘My Streets’ is to empower and support individuals who have experienced homelessness with accessible training and education options while humanising the issue for the general in-home community.
There are 9,698 people officially homeless in Ireland, 71,858 on social housing waiting lists and large numbers of family homes at risk of repossession. These are just three facts that highlight the depth of the current housing and homelessness crisis in this country; an industrial scale problem with grave social, moral and financial implications for us all. As the problem has grown so has it's coverage with the great and the good regularly debating the roots and potential resolutions of the issue on our television screens and airwaves.
One voice that is regularly absent from this debate is that of people who have experienced homelessness first hand. This absence has led to an unwitting concentration on the statistical basis of the issue. A dysfunctional housing system, of which homelessness is the mere tip, produces more human causalities than other political hot potatoes and, as such, requires a pivot towards the human effects of the issue. 'My Streets'was born from a desire to re-imagine reductive narratives around homelessness and foster empathy amongst the general voting public.
The vision of ‘My Streets’ is to empower and support people who have experienced, or are experiencing, homelessness to take positive action in their own lives while humanising the issue to those of us lucky enough not to have experienced it first-hand. This is achieved through the provision of professional, accessible training that allows for the cultivation of the necessary skills and confidence to provide quality tours. 28 individuals have engaged with My Streets training courses to date and provided tours to over 9,500 paying members of the public.
As a social enterprise 'My Streets' divides all proceeds between tour guides and costs associated with running the programme. It is hoped that this earning potential allows the project to move beyond the traditionally restrictive narrative around ‘homelessness and helplessness’ and cast it in a new light as well as producing sufficient capital to roll the project out to a number of locations.
My Streets has been operational in Co. Louth since 2014 and in Dublin since November 2018.