Couple who were homeless as children now helping others
A CHRISTMAS party held for the homeless last night in Dublin was the brainchild of a couple who are all about paying it forward.
Edel and Bryan Campbell, from Balbriggan, were homeless as children.
Now they are helping others who find themselves without a roof over their heads.
They are the founders of North County Outreach, which sets up on the steps of the Central Bank twice a week distributing food and clothing to the homeless.
With the help of volunteers, they gave out more than 300 selection boxes and Christmas hampers yesterday and will visit women's shelters this morning.
Edel and Bryan say they understand the plight of the homeless, having been taken into shelters with their families when they were young.
"When I was eight, I became homeless," said Edel.
"That's why it's so close to my heart. My dad was always about paying it forward afterwards.
"We were taken in by the Teresian nuns on South Circular Road, my two sisters, my mother and I. My dad was allowed to visit but not stay because they wouldn't take in men."
Edel said they were there for five months until they got a place to rent.
Bryan's father was also left to walk the streets while the rest of his family went to a shelter on Cork Street.
Edel and Bryan later came close to returning to a similar situation.
"I lost my job a few years back and Edel had to leave hers because of a car accident," said Bryan.
"Our house was repossessed and we were inches away from being homeless, only for the fact we had some savings and were able to rent a place.
"We thought we might be able to help others, so last year when we had extra Christmas presents for the children, we put up an ad to see if anyone needed them.
"Some of the stores we heard about people were just dreadful, so we reached out to the community and asked if they could help us to help them.
"The support is just great and it has been getting bigger and bigger."
Edel added: "We're only over eight weeks up and running and have been inundated with donations.
"Local companies have been great. We get about six calls a day to the house with people bringing food. You hear a knock on the door and it's someone with a pot of stew."
The organisation also helps in the local community, recently raising €3,475 for a family who lost everything in a house fire.