Wednesday 21 March 2018

A crisis isn’t just for Christmas: State mustn’t forget the homeless in 2018

Our View

The traditional Christmas effort to ensure that the less fortunate are among us - particularly the poor and homeless - are looked after over the festive season is both welcome and laudable.

As the holidays approach every year we inevitably witness a surge in donations to charities as the 'season of goodwill' sees thousands of people who don't typically donate to charities do their good deed for the year.

Stories of people suffering hardship - be they someone living on the streets or a lonely and vulnerable elderly person living alone in a freezing home - flood the media and tug at the heartstrings of a public who are often far more obsessed with turkeys and presents than the plight of the impoverished.

Countless charities across the country rely on this spirit of Christmas generosity to feed, house and care for many thousands of hungry, homeless and impoverished people who struggle to put food on the table or even survive in the freezing winter months.

Many millions of euros worth of cash, food, supplies and toys are donated, helping to bring just a little Christmas cheer to the less fortunate.

To see people who otherwise may not be too concerned with helping the vulnerable reach into their pockets to help out is always welcome.

It is, however, a terrible shame that this willingness to help often seems to fade almost as soon as the tinsel and Christmas lights are taken down.

There are, of course, thousands of volunteers all over Ireland who spend the entire year helping the needy. There are also many generous people who will continue to make donations right though the year.

Sadly, though, these people often appear to be in the minority and once Christmas is over there is a huge proportion of the population who seem to think the problems of the poor end with the passing of winter.

The severe hardships faced by Ireland's poor and homeless may be worse over the cold winter months but they are by no means confined to them.

The streets can be just as cold and dangerous for rough sleepers on a night in July as they are in December.

Parents struggling to feed their starving children will feel the same agony when there is no food to put on the table whether its Christmas Day or a random Tuesday in April.

As we all know, Ireland is in the depths of a homeless crisis with thousands of people and families from villages, towns and cities all over Ireland struggling to survive day to day.

The problems they face will be just as severe in six months as they are this week and that shouldn't be forgotten.

Ireland has always prided itself on being a nation that will do its best to help the impoverished and vulnerable at home and abroad.

This year let's keep the Christmas spirit alive and make sure the vulnerable - and the charities who help them - have what they need to keep going until next Christmas rolls around.

Enniscorthy Guardian