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The kitchen feeding 1,000 a day left out in cold for crisis summit

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Br Kevin Crowley, who founded the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless in Dublin's north inner city

Br Kevin Crowley, who founded the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless in Dublin's north inner city

Staff Evelyn Farrell, Ciaran Keating, Aileen Aherne, Chris Masterson and Ines Erhardt, who all work in the kitchen of the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless in Dublin's north inner city. Picture: Damien Eagers

Staff Evelyn Farrell, Ciaran Keating, Aileen Aherne, Chris Masterson and Ines Erhardt, who all work in the kitchen of the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless in Dublin's north inner city. Picture: Damien Eagers

Roy Campbell, chef in the kitchen of the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless in Dublin's north inner city. Picture credit; Damien Eagers

Roy Campbell, chef in the kitchen of the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless in Dublin's north inner city. Picture credit; Damien Eagers

from l to r, are Benny Donnelly, Stephen McArdle, John Paul Quinn, and Christopher Royal, who all use the services of the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless in Dublin's north inner city. Picture credit; Damien Eagers

from l to r, are Benny Donnelly, Stephen McArdle, John Paul Quinn, and Christopher Royal, who all use the services of the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless in Dublin's north inner city. Picture credit; Damien Eagers

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Br Kevin Crowley, who founded the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless in Dublin's north inner city

A lone green door is the only sign of life along the stone wall in Dublin's city centre.

People quietly shuffle in and out of the building, making limited conversation.

What looks like a dreary-looking complex from the outside is actually a bustling food canteen on the inside, distributing lifelines to people.

Opened in 1969, and currently run by Brother Kevin Crowley, the Capuchin Day Centre provides hot meals for the less fortunate on a daily basis.

It serves around 1,000 people daily, and dishes out almost 10,000 meals a week between breakfast, lunch and its food parcels.

shock

The service has been at the heart of the homeless community for decades so it came as a huge shock to learn that Brother Crowley was not invited to the emergency summit on homelessness yesterday.

"Maybe I'd be a nuisance to them," he mused."Homeless people have been dying on the streets for years but it took one outside the Dail (to die) to get attention. Instead of putting up people in hotels and spending a fortune with nothing to show for it, they should be building housing units for homeless people."

The Capuchin room yesterday was packed with people from young men to the very elderly, and there is an area exclusively reserved for families. On Wednesday alone, there was a spike of 2,000 people through the centre looking for breakfast, food parcels and dinner.

Chef Roy Campbell (61), who has worked at the centre for more than 15 years, explains how the demand is getting greater and greater for an organisation that, at times, just about meets the demand.

"Some days it's just about coping, and you just try to keep it simple and manageable to feed the people coming in," he explains. "Only a few years ago, we'd be serving 150 meals at lunch but the number has quadrupled to 600 dishes in the afternoon. We're seeing more and more people coming through the door."

The centre employs 23 full-time staff but depends on the generosity of volunteers.

"The volunteers keep this place going, they really do. We'd get a lot of schoolchildren coming in and helping out, but then there would also be lawyers, bank workers, gardai, retirees and members of the clergy," he says.

The Capuchin Centre proves vital for those who avail of its service, and Roy said that it "keeps their head above water".

A man who gave his name as John Paul, currently living in a hostel, described how the centre can offer a sobering reality into the mind-set of a homeless person.

"If you look around, you can see the people who have only recently ended up homeless or in a hostel. You can see that tiny glimmer of hope that remains in their eyes," he explains. "However, for the majority you can see that they think there is no hope left for them, that this is the way things are going to be forever."

hnews@herald.ie


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