Before the events of the Focus Ireland Shine-a-Light 2018 sleep-out last Friday night become a distant memory, I thought I would jot down a few thoughts from the evening.
- Homelessness can affect anyone—it doesn’t discriminate
- Sleeping rough on the streets most obvious sign…..but it’s the smallest part of the problem. The wider issue is that of families who may have to walk the streets every evening until 8 pm at night (often with very young children) waiting for a room in a hotel or bed and breakfast to be allocated. If no room is available, then they are advised to go to a Garda station, where they have to wait in the public waiting area, and their children are potentially exposed to undesirable behaviour here. This can go on for weeks and months, until a “more permanent” bed/s are allocated. However, all too often, this more permanent solution is not family suitable with families being placed in accommodation without cooking facilities.This can go on for many months and even years.
- Building projects….planning not being approved by local councils appears to be the biggest stumbling block to progression of these projects
- Handling of the issue if homelessness appears obstructive rather than facilitatory at higher levels
- The average family is estimated to be 5 to 6 months away from homelessness due to eviction, job loss, ill-health etc
- Met with some amazing people actively fundraising for Focus Ireland
- Met equally amazing people working for Focus Ireland..all very passionate about their work
- Focus Ireland assists customers during and after re-housing to ensure that they don’t become homeless again—this is one of the main reasons their service is so vital and so successful, and this support does not appear to be offered/available through other homeless agencies
- Doing the Sleep out was challenging, but manageable only because we all knew we were going home afterwards…..where we could dry the sleeping bag out, and have a warm bath…..we would have felt very differently if facing into a second night of sleeping rough.
People are incredibly generous. …..my sleep out has received huge support, and I thank each and every one of my sponsors very much, especially as I know there are a plethora of charities out there looking for support.