Dandara | Peer Education Programme goes from strength to strength | September 2021

More than 1,000 schoolchildren in the Isle of Man have been educated about the true reality of homelessness over the past academic year.

Date: Wednesday 01 September 2021


Katie Farrall (left) and Margaret Howie (right) with students from the Buchan.

Housing Matters’ Peer Education Programme was launched in 2017 when local homebuilder Dandara awarded the charity a five-year funding package to help it deliver the project. By using real-life experiences and stories, it aims to engage primary and secondary school students with the issue of homelessness from a young age and the stark reality of living without permanent accommodation. 

Despite this year’s two lockdowns, which impacted the charity’s ability to deliver sessions during the spring and summer term, it was still able to engage with 270 Year 11 pupils at Ramsey Grammar School, 250 Year 11 and Sixth Form students at Castle Rushen High School and 530 Year 10, 11 and Sixth Form pupils at St Ninian’s High School during the autumn term.

During these sessions, they focused on the pandemic and the issues it has brought to those without a permanent residence such as ‘how does a homeless person self-isolate?’ and ‘how can you sofa surf when you are unable to move from house to house?’

Katie Farrell, Peer Education Co-ordinator for Housing Matters, said: ‘Statistics show that you are only three pay cheques away from potential homelessness. In a three month lockdown, on a significantly reduced income such as MERA, how do you continue to pay rent and support yourself and your family? These are the messages that are so important to get across to young people and what we have focused our attention to this academic year.

‘Early education is absolutely key; ensuring young people know the facts rather than the romanticised view of living with friends. Over the past five years, we have had a really positive impact on our local young people with the rollout of the Peer Education Programme, and this is backed up by our statistics.

‘We would not have made this progress without the fantastic support of Dandara and we are incredibly grateful. Its support has made a real difference to our young people and their future, thank you Dandara.’

Since Housing Matters launched the Peer Education Programme with Dandara’s funding support in 2017, the charity has seen an overall reduction of 26% of under 21s contacting it for advice, housing and other support.

Dandara Marketing Director Jo Orton said: ‘The 2020-21 academic year marks the final year of our five-year partnership with Housing Matters’ Peer Education Programme. It is so encouraging to see that since the initiative was launched, fewer young people are contacting the charity for advice and support. This just demonstrates the fantastic positive impact these sessions are having.

‘It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Katie and the team at Housing Matters and we look forward to keeping in touch and up-to-date with the charity’s future endeavours.’