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Dublin Mayor sleeps rough for charity

Photo: The Irish Labour Party

Photo: The Irish Labour Party

On 18 October Dublin mayor Oisín Quinn will take part in Focus Ireland’s ‘Shine a Light’ campaign by sleeping rough in the Iveagh Gardens, along with a hundred other businessmen and CEOs.

The fund raising initiative asks a hundred leading business owners and executives to donate or raise over €5000 in support of the Liberties based charity Focus Ireland, in its efforts to tackle homelessness.  Last year the campaign made well over €370,000 but this year it aims to top that figure by raising over half a million euro. The ‘Shine a light’ campaign extends over three days from 18 to the 20 October, when volunteers will hold collections and fundraising events for Focus Ireland.

According to the latest ‘Rough Sleeper Count’ undertaken in April 2013 by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, there are a minimum of 94 people sleeping on the streets of the capital.

The Dublin Lord Mayor volunteered to contribute to the Focus Ireland campaign and says that “these past couple of years it’s been quite tough for organisations and charities to raise enough money to support their services”. However, Mr Quinn believes this is a “successful and clever” type of fundraiser as it draws the public’s attention to the issue of homelessness by having these top business leaders sleep rough for one night.

Last year Focus Ireland supported well over 8,000 people; in comparison to 7,459 in 2011. This rise in demand has put increasing pressure on the charity’s services and funding.

Mr. Quinn says sleeping rough is only one aspect of the issue for those affected by homelessness as staying in certain hostel rooms can be an “unattractive” option for those hoping to wean themselves off alcohol and drugs.  “If you’re in a room with five other people, one or more could be taking drugs, one or more could have alcohol with them, or a fight could arise.”

Focus Ireland, first established in 1985, also provides help to those in fear of losing their homes and for people struggling to remain in local authority or rented accommodation.  “There are tens of thousands of people on local authority housing lists and many of those are renting and don’t have permanent homes as such”, says the Dublin mayor.

Mr. Quinn says that many homeless people sleeping rough are in serious danger of dying at a young age if these issues are not tackled immediately. “There are people who spend their adult life homeless and if they don’t get out of it they will probably face that kind of scenario where they die in their forties.”

For further information on the campaign go to www.shinealight.ie or the Focus Ireland website at www.focusireland.ie.

Photo: flickr/The Irish Labour Party  

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