“It’s so homely here, I feel safe now with my family and there’s lots of help when I need it. The children have activities they can go to it’s great for them to socialise with other children”
In November 2006 Depaul opened the doors of its first Family Hostel, Mater Dei based in North Belfast.
Mater Dei replaced Atlantic House, a family service hostel run by a voluntary management committee of St Vincent de Paul in North Belfast. Atlantic House had been in operation for over 20 years providing accommodation and support to 11 families, at any one time, in shared accommodation but it was identified that the service was in need of modernisation.
Depaul took over management of Atlantic House in 2006 in partnership with Newington Housing Association and Mater Dei began.
Mater Dei offers 13 self-contained apartments to families. All of the Families have a key worker to help them access the services they need so that they get the very best support for a positive move-on out of homelessness. During each family’s stay, the staff help in finding suitable long-term accommodation. Mater Dei provides the time and space so that families can address the issues that led to their homelessness. Taking time to mend broken relationships; address debts; develop and maintain a household budget; plan and cook nutritious meals for their families and learn to run a family home.
Depaul has successfully been awarded funding from Children in Need since 2009 for dedicated Child Support Workers. This is an integral part of the work of our family services.
For those parents facing difficulty with their parenting knowledge or skills, practical support is on hand in Mater Dei to make family life a more positive experience for all family members.
When families move on from Mater Dei, they can now receive ongoing support in their new homes from Depaul Family Services Floating Support workers. This service supports the positive improvements that families have made in Mater Dei by offering advice and guidance in the family’s new home. This work is vital to ensure sustainable tenancies and secure homes for the future for vulnerable families who have come through homelessness.
Mater Dei works with families from all over Northern Ireland which have been identified as homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. All service users must have a commitment to the project and comply with the programme of support.
Referrals to Mater Dei are taken through the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. Existing Depaul service users can be referred to the floating support service by their keyworker.
Depaul Mater Dei continues to play an active part in the local community, encouraging all service users to engage in local events and activities.