Sister Jean Quinn, chairwoman of Sophia Housing and executive director of UNANIMA International, a United Nations coalition of Catholic religious congregations focused on concerns of women, children, migrants and the environment, has called on housing policy to promote belonging and a community spirit.
For two decades, operating under the slogan ‘providing homes, supporting people’, Sophia Housing has offered vital support to those struggling to rebuild their lives as a result of homelessness. The services provided by Sophia Housing extend far beyond basic accommodation, they promote a sense of belonging and community spirit. The organisation emphasises the importance of ‘person-centred’ support for individuals and families dealing with homelessness. Spaces such as the Wisdom Centre in Dublin’s Cork Street offer a tranquil environment for people to seek wisdom of mind, heart and spirit. Sophia is currently supporting 617 adults and 169 children, alongside 134 people who avail of support through outreach programmes.
Writing for The Irish Times on 23 April, Sister Quinn said: “As a Daughter of Wisdom I’m proud of the supportive role played by religious congregations in the work of Sophia. Many congregations have given property to Sophia for use as homes. As the needs for large properties declines these congregations are ensuring that buildings will continue to serve those most in need in different ways.
“I am acutely aware of our rich heritage of service and commitment to social justice. Religious sisters continue this tradition in different ways, and new models are emerging throughout the world”, Sister Quinn said.
As executive director of UNANIMA International, Sister Quinn represents 22 congregations with 20,000 members in over 80 countries. The priority of this organisation is to put the provision of adequate homes at the centre of UN policy. As a result of the work of Sister Quinn, homelessness will be a key theme at the Commission on Social Development in 2020.