Saturday 24 August 2019

Homeless group crowned local heroes

Bray area rough sleepers recognised by local retail park

Art O’Laoghaire of Bray Area Rough Sleepers accepts the Bray Retail Park Local Heroes
Award from Dafe Orugbo of 1Plus Events
Art O’Laoghaire of Bray Area Rough Sleepers accepts the Bray Retail Park Local Heroes Award from Dafe Orugbo of 1Plus Events

Simon Bourke

A voluntary group which seeks to alleviate the plight of rough sleepers has been named as the town's Local Heroes by Bray Retail Park.

Bray Area Rough Sleepers (Barss) provides supports for those with no bed for the night by providing hot food, sleeping bags and clothing. Founded in November 2015 following the death from hypothermia of a person sleeping rough in Bray, the group consists of approximately 25 people, including five administrators. They work seven nights a week using provisions donated by local people and businesses in the community and receive no government funding.

'We supply those who come to us with sandwiches and other food from our own presses, plus hot drinks, water, juice, minerals and snacks mostly provided by people and businesses in the community,' said Anita Tuesley of Barss. 'We have a policy of no questions asked, no judgement, and an expectation of confidentiality and anonymity towards our service users.

'We hope this gains the trust of people who may be otherwise unwilling to seek help. We would advise anyone who finds themselves sleeping rough to make contact with local services such as 5 Loaves who can help with advice, food, and other needs during the day.'

Ms Tuesley offered some advice for those sleeping rough during the long summer evenings.

'In this weather, we would advise people to keep hydrated and to seek shade. However, water is surprisingly hard to get hold of, so we would also ask the public to please supply a bottle of water, and food, if they see someone struggling during a heatwave,' she said.

Local woman Leah Treacy nominated the group for the prize in recognition of the selfless work that it does.

'We are very proud to receive this award as it will raise awareness around the issue of homelessness and it's a tribute to our wonderful volunteers,' said Ms Tuesley.

The group is currently seeking to increase its volunteer numbers to ensure it can continue delivering its services and can be contacted through its Facebook page.

Bray Retail Park's asset manager Sigma Retail Partners launched the Local Heroes competition as part of their 2019 'Do Well by Doing Good' corporate responsibility programme. Barss was adjudged the most deserving of the award from a host of local entries and has received a prize of €1,000 from Bray Retail Park towards its work.

'Barss is a most deserving winner and we are delighted to back their wonderful work,' said Emma Leonard, Sigma asset manager at Bray Retail Park.

Bray People