A DISTURBING increase in the number of homeless people living on the streets of Dublin has been encountered by volunteers seeking to help them.
The Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) organisation, which has six groups of volunteers who help people sleeping rough, witnessed "a sharp surge" in the number of homeless people relying on their outreach programme.
ICHH volunteers said they discovered a drastic increase in the demand for their help. The volunteers provided food and clothing to 158 people on a single night recently.
Their services were stretched as this number was the highest recorded in several weeks, they said.
The six volunteer groups which make up the entire outreach programme were "swamped" within 40 minutes of their arrival at locations in Dublin, causing them to eventually run out of the basics items.
Several group members had to refill hot water supplies and food throughout the night.
The record number of homeless desperate for help was counted in close proximity of their outreach routes, which encompasses a five-mile radius of the city centre.
ICHH director Anthony Flynn said: "'These figures are only scraping the surface. In regard to the total number of homeless in Dublin, this is only the beginning.
"ICHH have warned several times of the homeless hurricane forecast in Dublin. Organisations such as ourselves and other homeless charities are being stretched to the limit and cannot cope with the demand.
"Over €48m is being spent yearly by the homeless executive… this black hole of homelessness needs to be addressed immediately by the Government," he said.
He said that 250 people were fed and clothed by the charity over just two nights last week.
"Although announcements of new accommodation for homeless men, women and families have been heard in papers, on the ground little has changed except for the added pressure being forced on the voluntary non-funded services of charities like Inner City Helping Homeless," he said.
A number of homeless people are also sleeping rough under the arches of The Custom House, headquarters of the Department of the Environment.