History of Thurles Lions Trust Housing Association

Thurles Lions Trust Housing Association (TLTHA) is a special purpose, charity status, company formed by Thurles Lions Club to develop and operate social housing in the Thurles area providing accommodation for those who are homeless or in threat of homelessness and in particular providing accommodation for people with underlying mental and physical health challenges.

Thurles is a town of approximately 7,000 people serving a hinterland of 25,000 people in the county of Tipperary, Ireland. Thurles Lions Club was founded in 1964 and has operated continuously for the last 56 years. It has a membership of 50 members.

Today, TLTHA company presently owns and operates 61 housing units, housing over 100 people, with development plans ongoing. The Company is limited by guarantee without a share capital and is registered as a charity with the Irish Revenue. The Company is an Approved Housing Body (AHB) under Ireland’s Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government regulations governing Voluntary Housing. Thurles Lions Trust Housing Association is a member of the Irish Council for Social Housing.

There are 13 directors on the company board of directors. All give of their time and experience on a voluntary basis. The Board is responsible for the welfare of the residents and for the corporate governance, regulatory compliance, operational and financial viability and risk assessment of the company. Thurles Lions Housing employs 10 people in a combination of full and part time positions.

Founded In

Units of Social Housing

Private Housing

Thurles Lions Club has been providing support to the less well-off of the Thurles area for 56 years. Over that time, the Lions Club recognised that there were many people living in very difficult circumstances. The concept of providing a proper home and support to these people was the nucleus to the formation of TLTHA.

Specifically, TLTHA primarily caters for single persons who are homeless or in threat of homelessness and suffer with mental and/or physical health challenges.

TLTHA was originally conceived by Lion Peter Cleary of Thurles Lions Club in 1999. The concept was developed further by a subcommittee of members from the Thurles Club. TLTHA was registered as a company in May 2001. Included in the formation group was Lion Matthew Bourke whose energy and vitality helped to bring the early stages of the project to fruition. Lion Matthew Bourke’s passing away at a young age in 2003, was a deep loss to Thurles Lions Club. As a mark of respect to their fellow member, Thurles Lions Club named their first house in his honour.

In June 2002 TLTHA was awarded Voluntary Housing status. Fund raising for the first housing complex, Lion Matthew Bourke House was carried out by Thurles Lions Club throughout the period 1999 to 2008. €135,000 was raised locally and coupled with a €100,000 Health Service Executive grant raised the seed capital for the company and qualified TLTHA for a capital grant aid of €1.9m from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. The building was constructed in 2006-2007. The building was officially opened by Lions Clubs International Immediate Past International President Jimmy Ross III on November 24, 2007, marked by a very joyful opening ceremony.

 Figure 1 – TLTHA’s First Development, Lion Matthew Bourke House—providing 14 units of accommodation

Figure 2 – Opening of Lion Matthew Bourke House by PIP Jimmy Ross III

Butler Court

As a follow-on project to Lion Matthew Bourke House, TLTHA developed 6 move-on apartments under the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government Capital Allowance Scheme (CAS) funding at a cost of €700,000. TLTHA procured partially built houses, secured revised planning and converted them to apartments. These were completed in 2010. Several of the residents of Lion Matthew Bourke House have now progressed to long term accommodation in Butler Court. Revenues from this complex are used to subsidise the running of Lion Matthew Bourke House.

CAS2016—6 Additional Units:

Under a 2016 CAS funding scheme, TLTHA secured a further €700,000 of funding which has been used to purchase 6 additional homes throughout Thurles. All of these homes have been refurbished and are now fully occupied.

CAS2018 – Roscrea

In 2018, Thurles Lions Trust Housing Association, working with the Roscrea Lions Club made its first venture into Roscrea. Similar to Thurles Lions Club, Roscrea Lions Club had identified a growing need to provide accommodation to the homeless and those in risk of homelessness in Roscrea, a town 20 miles from Thurles.

Recognising that Thurles was already well set up from a company structure, governance and organisation point of view and already being a recognised approved housing body with the government, it was agreed that it was more practical to piggy back off the TLTHA structure rather than create a second structure for Roscrea. To promote the integrated working of the two Lions Clubs, a member of Roscrea Lions Club was invited onto the board of TLTHA.

In 2018 TLTHA secured its first capital funding for a Roscrea project and purchased a 3-bedroom house in the town. Discussions are ongoing with the local authorities on how to further develop housing in Roscrea.

Figure 4 – Members of Roscrea Lions Club Working with Thurles Lions Trust Housing Association

CAS2018—Monastery Close:

Under a 2018 CAS funding scheme, TLTHA secured an additional €3.040m of funding which coupled with €160,000 of TLTHA’s own funding saw TLTHA purchase an additional 34 units of mixed development providing accommodation for a mix of elderly and persons with disabilities.

Figure 4 – Members of Roscrea Lions Club Working with Thurles Lions Trust Housing Association

CAS2016—6 Additional Units:

Under a 2016 CAS funding scheme, TLTHA secured a further €700,000 of funding which has been used to purchase 6 additional homes throughout Thurles. All of these homes have been refurbished and are now fully occupied.

Figure 6 – Opening of Monastery Close Housing Complex by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD pictured with Thurles Lions Club and District Governor, Bernard Black

Stanwix Village:

The Stanwix Trust was set up in Thurles in 1889 to cater for widows in the area. It is affectionately known locally as the “Widows Home” and provided support to widows in the area for over 130 years. Thurles Lions Club had been providing support services to the Widows Home since the club’s foundation in 1964. In 2015 TLTHA approached the Stanwix Trust to see if there might be opportunities of co-operation. It was a case of “be careful what you ask for, you just might get it…” The Stanwix Trust informed TLTHA that they no longer had the funding or expertise to continue operating the Stanwix Trust and asked us to consider consolidating the Stanwix Trust into the TLTHA. After some consideration on both sides and approval from the Housing Regulator in Ireland, the Stanwix Trust was merged into TLTHA. TLTHA worked with the Stanwix Trust to relocate the remaining tenants, appoint an architect, carry out preliminary design works on the protected building, and seek and obtain planning for the renovation and redevelopment of this historic site. In June 2019 the merger of the Stanwix Trust into TLTHA was completed. In 2020 TLTHA went to tender for the construction works on the project and secured €3.8m of CAS funding from the government towards these redevelopment works.

The works, known as the Stanwix Village were scheduled to commence on January 11th, 2021 and to complete in 2022.

Stanwix Village will comprise 19 units of mixed accommodation for people with disability and the elderly on the Stanwix Home grounds and will include a new home for Thurles Lions Club “Blue Door” project which provides community support services, particularly in the areas of mental health and suicide awareness. This complex will also include a 5-unit house providing 24 hours/day support for dependent people with more severe disabilities.

TLTHA Operations

Responsibility for the operation, maintenance and management of the social housing rests with the Board of Directors and the Management & Staff of TLTHA. The Management and staff of TLTHA are employed directly by TLTHA. No member of the Board receives remuneration for their work on the Board of TLTHA.

TLTHA employ professional staff from the geographic area with a combination of management, housing, medical and community care experience. With 88 members between them, Thurles Lions Club and Roscrea Lions Club members continue to support TLTHA. TLTHA works in conjunction with statutory and voluntary organisations within the community. Today, TLTHA, in conjunction with Thurles and Roscrea Lions Clubs, house over 100 elderly people and people with disabilities and provide outreach services to an additional 20 people. We continue to grow to meet the continuously growing need.

Figure 9 – Pictured at a visit by Lions District Governor Paul Allen to TLTHA are (L-R) Lion Anne-Marie Brophy (Thurles Club President), Liz Ferncombe (resident), Paul Allen (District Governor), Willie Gleeson (resident) and Helen O’Shaughnessy (care worker)

Figure 10 – Pictured at a visit of International Lions President Gudrun Yngvadottir to TLTHA in April 2019 are (L-R) Dr. Jon Bjarni Thorsteinsson, International Lions President Gudrun Yngvadottir, Lion Joe Putti (Thurles Lions Club President), Lion Eamonn Medley (Chairman of TLTHA), Lion Frank O’Donoghue (District Governor District 133 and Lion Des Ryan (2nd Vice District Governor District 133)

Funding

Capital funding of the projects has been through a combination of local fund raising by the Thurles Lions Club and capital grants from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. Operationally, TLTHA is funded through a combination of sources including the Health Service Executive (HSE), Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) funding, resident rental incomes and Thurles Lions Club fundraising. TLTHA is a charity company with a turn-over of approximately €300,000 annually and is run on a not for profit basis. All monies generated by the company are reinvested in the provision of supported housing for those in threat of homelessness within the community.

“At Lions, the underlying conviction is that human beings are not just individuals, but also communities. Our purpose on earth is not just to achieve personal success, but also to contribute actively to social progress.”