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Irish president praises homeless shelter during Birmingham visit

Irish president visits Birmingham

The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, met staff from Birmingham homeless shelter, Tabor House, during yesterday’s visit to the city.

President Higgins visited the headquarters of the Birmingham Irish Association, which is one of the founding partners behind Tabor House. Project manager, Sharon Fear, volunteer co-ordinator Sharon McCall, Jo Watters and Christy Acton of Father Hudson’s Care, and Mary Keenan from the management committee were invited to the event.

Sharon Fear, Sharon McCall and Jo Watters were introduced to the President and told him about Tabor House and the work it is doing to transform the lives of people experiencing homelessness. He praised their hard work, thanking them for all they do to help homeless people turn their lives around.

Jo said she was pleased to have met President Higgins and to have the opportunity to talk about how Tabor House is supporting homeless people to make a fresh start. Since opening in September 2017, volunteers at the shelter have supported ten people to move into their own accommodation. Yet more people have been supported to move back in with families or shared living arrangements. Volunteer mentors assist guests with finding training, managing debt, building their employment skills – whatever they need to bring about change.

The meeting was part of President Higgins’ visit to the city during which he paid tribute to the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings and their families. He laid flowers at a memorial recently unveiled by the Birmingham Irish Association and the Justice4the21 campaign group together with Network Rail. It marked the start of a three-day visit to England, accompanied by his wife, Sabina Higgins, and Pat Breen TD, Minister for Trade, Business and Employment.

Tabor House is a collaborative project between Father Hudson’s Care, the Birmingham Irish Association, Midland Heart, Housing Justice, the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham, corporate philanthropists, and local homelessness specialists. Together they have formed iShelter—a new homelessness organisation that aims to help homeless people turn their lives around. Homeless people are referred to Tabor House by the Birmingham charities Midland Heart and Sifa Fireside.

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