Friday 19 April 2019

Task Force raises €5K for a homeless charity

Bríd Walsh, Katie Murphy and Scarlett Taylor at the Focus Ireland sleep-out in Skerries.
Bríd Walsh, Katie Murphy and Scarlett Taylor at the Focus Ireland sleep-out in Skerries.

John Manning

A timely donation will be made this week from the North Dublin Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force to Focus Ireland as the biting cold weather is felt worst by those without a roof over their heads.

The task force will present a cheque for around €5,200 to the homeless charity which was raised last October by a few hardy volunteers who had to endure some inclement weather themselves as they slept out in the rain in Floraville Park in Skerries.

Siobhan Maher, the task forces' Family Support Specialist will hand over the cheque to Focus Ireland on Thursday, in Swords.

Siobhan Maher works for the task force as a family support specialist, providing a range of supports for families dealing with substances abuse.

Speaking to the Fingal Independent back in October during the sleep-out which she and other volunteers from the task force and elsewhere, Siobhan said she encounters homelessness daily in her work: 'There are more families coming in to us living in hotels now than anything else.

'Even during the week when I was collecting sponsorship for this, people were talking about rough sleepers but it's not just about the rough sleepers, it's about the people living in hotels as well and the children living in hotels.

'Children are being deprived of a childhood while they are homeless. We are seeing those families all the time. Sometimes there are drug and alcohol issues there and sometimes there isn't but when there is, living like that doesn't make it any easier and it's an added stress.

'It can exacerbate a habit because there is no light at the end of the tunnel for a lot of these people. They are on housing lists for God knows how long and in the meantime they are trying to raise their family in one hotel room - it's crazy.'

Bracing herself for the night of rough sleeping that laid ahead of her, Siobhan said: 'It is my first time to do this - my first time sleeping out, actually. I am a little bit apprehensive but you know what, I can do it for one night because there are people who have to do it all the time so I will grin and bear it. It's a little thing for me to do but hopefully we will raise a lot of money and a lot of awareness.'

Well her hopes were justified and the sleep-out has managed to raise a lot of money and awareness. That money is needed more than ever with the recent cold snap that hit the homeless more than anyone else. While the sleep-out is over and the cheque is handed over, you can still support the spirit of the task force's efforts by donating to Focus Ireland yourself and now is a very good time to do it. Well done to all who took on the sleep-out and raised such a healthy sum and no doubt, they will be at it again later in the year.

Fingal Independent