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Midlands Simon chair reassures locals in wake of top up controversy

Story by Laura Ryder

Tuesday, 17th December, 2013 11:13am

Midlands Simon chair reassures locals in wake of top up controversy

The chairperson of the Midlands Simon Community board of directors has spoken out to reassure local supporters their hard-earned donations are being used as intended.

Tess Murphy said she feels it’s important to be transparent and open with the public, due to the recent controversy in relation to top up payments for senior managers in some charities in Ireland.

“The board and staff of Midlands Simon Community receives no salary top ups, no six figure salaries, no pension top ups, no bonus payments, no unvouched travel expenses, no company car or car allowance,” Ms Murphy said, adding that financial statements are also available to the public.

“I have been sitting on the board of directors for Midlands Simon Community and became chair in November this year. My role on the board and now as chair is a voluntary one, as it is for all members of the Midlands Simon Community board,” she said, adding that 92 per cent of salaries in the Midlands Simon Group are below the average industrial wage and all salaries are “below the norm” for the sector.

According to Ms Murphy the region gets just 1.5 per cent of the total budget for homeless services in Ireland, and the organisation was told last August that State funding is to be cut by a further 12.27 per cent.

Citing a report this year by Murtagh and Associates on the service, Ms Murphy said the Midlands Simon Community delivers the most cost-effective homeless support service in the country in terms of both value for money and the positive outcomes for service users.

“The kind voluntary donations of people like you play a vital role in making up 46 per cent of our funding,” Ms Murphy explained.

“This percentage represents the minimum shortfall between State funding and what is needed to provide a basic service. More than ever, our backs are against the wall but it has always been our vision that our front line services, which are helping people move out of homelessness and into a home of their own, will not be affected by funding cuts.”

Midlands Simon helps approximately 100 people each day, with services including emergency accommodation in Athlone and Tullamore, community liaison nurses, independent living and a regional settlement service.

“We didn’t do it on our own; it is your support that makes all of this possible,” Ms Murphy said. “From the board, staff, volunteers and most importantly, clients of Midlands Simon Community, I would like to voice my appreciation for your support. Thank you. You have the right to know where your donation goes and I would like to reassure you every euro is making a huge difference to the lives of our clients and we are eternally grateful.”

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