Stella Maris was the first service of its kind in Northern Ireland and was set up to help people with entrenched alcohol issues who were rough sleeping in Belfast.
Depaul opened Stella Maris in conjunction with Helm Housing Association, now Radius Housing, in September 2005. This project works on the dual principles of harm reduction and low threshold, meaning we work with people in a way that encourages them to make more positive choices in relation to their addiction issues, mainly alcohol.
Stella Maris provides a home for up to 23 long-term homeless street drinkers, who have ongoing issues with daily drinking. The residents very often have associated mental health issues, general health issues and diminished life and living skills. Stella Maris accepts both men and women over the age of 18.
Everyone living in Stella Maris has a dedicated keyworker who supports them with their addiction through alcohol management support and planning. Support is offered with their emotional and mental health needs, physical health needs and it is also important to work on motivation and taking responsibility, managing money, social networks and relationships. Specialist support is also made available in-service by GPs and nurses.
A team of volunteers work with the residents to create and plan a range of weekly activities aimed at reducing feelings of isolation, promoting positive well-being and supporting them with the key life-skills required for their move on from homelessness.
One of the key aims of Stella Maris is to provide a homely environment for each resident. Very often this is the first stable place that they can call home in a very long time.