On this day, World Day of Social Justice, we thought it particularly important to highlight the importance of social justice, particularly in relation to people experiencing homelessness, who Peter McVerry Trust advocates on behalf of.
The meaning of social justice can be broad-ranging, but from the point of view of our founder, Fr Peter McVerry, “social justice is the practical consequence of acknowledging the dignity of every human being.”
“Everyone, just by virtue of being a human being, has the right to sufficient resources to enable them to survive and live a dignified human life, and a right to be respected and valued by others.”
On that understanding of social justice, the preservation of a person’s dignity is central to Peter McVerry Trust’s ethos. With a person’s dignity at the core of our work, our staff are dedicated to creating a non-judgemental environment, providing a sense of social justice and advocating for an inclusive, fairer society.
The absence of social justice and inclusion is one of the greatest challenges that a person experiencing homelessness faces, as Fr McVerry describes.
“Social justice is about affirming this dignity of each and every human being. When people are in homelessness, society is giving them the message that they are just not important enough for that society to make the effort needed and provide the resources necessary to overcome their homelessness.”
“When people are hungry in a world of plenty, the world is saying to them that they are just not important enough for the world to ensure that they have access to adequate food. All injustice is a denial of the dignity of the person.”
Right to Housing
In Peter McVerry Trust’s efforts to combat inequality and create a society of inclusion, we will continue to campaign for the right to a home to be inserted into the Constitution.
In December 1989, Ireland ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which includes the right to housing. In the 30 years since ratification Ireland has made no progress in enshrining that right in our Constitution or laws.
As an early adopter of the Housing First model and the country’s largest provider of Housing First services, we strongly believe that an adequate supply of good quality social and affordable housing is essential to end long term homelessness and eliminate the need to sleep rough.
Under Housing First, housing is seen as a right, not a privilege. Giving someone the keys to their own home is a platform upon which wraparound services – such as addiction and mental health support, education and employment – are provided. From there, people can be supported to live independently, and crucially, integrate into their community.