Charity fights to give hope to Ireland's rural homeless
Homelessness is not just an urban phenomenon. That is the message Tony O'Riordan will be looking to get across at the Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska.
O'Riordan is CEO of the Midlands Simon, a branch of the organisation with one of the most rural catchment areas, covering Laois, Offaly, Westmeath and Longford.
He is a man who thinks and acts outside the box in his constant battle to convince funders, agencies and the public that rural homelessness is also a serious problem.
"Becoming homeless is the result of a range of factors that are present everywhere. If you are isolated, if you have a history of deprivation, have a poor social and family network, have mental health issues and/or an addiction problem you are in danger of finding yourself without a roof over your head.
"You don't have to live in a city to have these problems," Mr O'Riordan explains.
On a daily basis, Midlands Simon deals with 100 people who struggle to have somewhere to call home. While Tony agrees that the homeless from rural areas will gravitate towards the towns, nevertheless the big problem with rural homelessness is its dispersed nature.
"This dispersal is a problem for the person who is homeless, or in danger of homelessness, and is miles from any support or treatment. It is a problem for those of us trying to reach them and provide consistent support, especially when our resources are being drastically cut," he says.
"I envy my urban counterparts who are within walking distance of their clients and all the services," he admits.