There was increased demand for services from Merchants Quay Ireland in the Midlands last year.

The Homeless and Addiction service, which originated in Dublin and now provides services nationwide, saw a rise in the number of people seeking drug and alcohol treatment supports in the Midlands.

According to MQI's 2020 annual report, 1,298 people were supported in the region last year, up from 787 in 2019.

In total, almost 10,000 (9,882) people accessed services last year.

The charity said the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people's mental and physical health may not be realised for years to come.

While it operated some services differently, Merchants Quay Ireland continued to remain open despite pandemic restrictions.

49,884 meals were given to people who were homeless on a take-away basis. An average of 130 meals were provided each day.

4,083 people engaged with the Harm Reduction Riverbank and Outreach Teams, where they learned how to minimise the risks of drug use and were provided the option of a pathway into treatment.

This resulted in 38,925 interventions last year, which included needle exchange, harm reduction and injecting advice. This was an 18% increase on the previous year.

1,174 clients engaged with MQI's Homeless Crisis Contact team, through which there were 9,867 interventions.

That is a rise on 2019 figures, when 653 clients engaged with the Homeless Crisis team, resulting in 4,504 interventions.

MQI's young person support services assisted 262 young people aged between 18-24, up 37% on 2019.

The charity noted that the recovery of many clients was stalled in 2020 or they fell further into addiction.

MQI said existing mental health problems were exacerbated by isolation and fear.