independent

Saturday 23 September 2017

Ten years of standing up to homelessness marked

Sinead Healy

'Home is where the heart is' but unfortunately not everyone is lucky enough to have a place to call their home.

Home means many different things to different people, but one common theme is that home is a place to call your own.

For more than ten years, Focus Ireland Sligo has been working tirelessly to help those in Sligo who have been affected by homelessness.

To mark their ten years of service in Sligo, an event was held last Friday the 5th May where people in the community were asked to 'Stand up to Homelessness' by taking part in Stand Up paddle boarding across Lough Gill and down the Garavogue River.

More than 38 people took part in the event and were lucky to catch Lough Gill on a sunny day.

The water was choppy and a cold wind blew as they grabbed their oars; many reluctantly hopped on the boards and headed off across Lough Gill.

Roisin McLoughlin, Project Worker with Focus Ireland Sligo believes that rural homelessness is becoming an increasing problem:

"We work day in and day out to prevent people from becoming homeless on a daily basis and unfortunately those that do become homeless we do work with them in order that they get somewhere safe and secure to call their home.

"It was a nice event to do something a little but different to stand up to homelessness and raise awareness of the issue here locally and to let the people know focus Ireland is there if you need us."

Mary Jameson, Project Manager with Focus Ireland Sligo was delighted with the day's turnout.

"It is all about raising awareness - people are inclined to think homelessness is all in Dublin and it is not. It is widespread here in Sligo and the county."

Frank Kelly, who was unfortunate enough to see the bottom of Lough Gill on more than three occasions said you have to stand up for homelessness or there will be more of it.

"You have to fight it and you have to been seen to be fighting it or it will become a plight that will be ignored."

Shane McCrann, owner of The Blind Tiger brought all his staff to the event as he believed it was important for them to be involved.

"Standing up for homelessness is a great event. For me home is that safe place and that place you can escape too so I wanted the whole team involved to help someone who may need a safe place."

Eve Kelly and Joanne Mooney along with a number of other 1st year Social Care students in IT Sligo braved the water as they believed that having a home should be a constitutional right for everyone.

Colum Enright said this event was important to raise awareness about keeping people in their homes.

"Standing up to homelessness is like standing up to bullies; homelessness is preventable if as a society we come together."

The Focus Ireland Sligo Office is based on 69 Lower John Street and their policy is that their door is always open for those who need it. 07-91-49974.

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