Focus Ireland marks 30 years fighting homelessness

(19 Aug 2015)

The event in Temple Bar in Dublin was also held to help mark the charity’s 30th anniversary year as Sr. Stan first founded Focus Ireland back in 1985.  It was in September 1985 that Focus Ireland first opened its Coffee Shop, Advice and Information Centre in Temple Bar as a direct response to the lack of services for people who were homeless in Dublin at that time.

Speaking at the event in Meeting House Square – just across the road from the Focus Ireland Coffee Shop - Sr. Stan highlighted the importance of the charity’s work over the years.  Sr. Stan said: “Focus Ireland supported over 11,500 people last year who were homeless or at risk of losing their home.  This was a 15% increase from the 10,000 we supported in 2013. While it is a sign things are getting worse for many, it is important to highlight that organisations like Focus Ireland are there to help support people who need it.  However, as recent figures show the homeless crisis is continuing to escalate with more and more families losing their home.  This worrying trend highlights a lot more needs to be done to tackle this growing issue.”

Sr. Stan went on to describe how Focus Ireland’s services are helping people affected by homelessness, “I know from speaking to them every week how important it is for them to have someone there to listen to them, to lend a helping hand when sometimes all other doors have been shut to them.  The great support we get means we are able to run 70 vital lifeline services around the country and also provide a permanent place to call home for up to 650 households who were homeless or at risk. This means we are able to run services to support young people when they leave care by providing aftercare outreach services and also accommodation for some of these young people.”

Today’s event at Meeting House Square, featured performances from Irish singer/songwriter Mundy and Former Voice UK star Sharon Murphy.  The High Hopes choir also performed at the event.  The choir, which is made up of people affected by homelessness, was the subject of a three part documentary called High Hopes which aired on RTE television in December 2014.  The choir teamed up with Mundy to perform a special rendition of his hit ‘Mexico’.  Sharon Murphy also took to the stage with The High Hopes choir, performing a stunning version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’.  Speaking at the concert, choir member Josie Lynch described how proud she was to take part in the event.  She said. “I’m so happy to be here singing with The High Hopes Choir.  Fifteen years ago, I was homeless and had noboby to turn to.  Focus Ireland housed me and gave me the help and support that I needed to turn my life around.  It’s nice to be here today to recognise the work of the charity who have helped so many people over the past 30 years.”

Focus Ireland has marked its 30th anniversary year with a number of events around the country including this concert today.  The charity is taking the opportunity to once again say thank you to everyone who has supported its work since 1985.

Focus Ireland CEO Ashley Balbirnie paid a special tribute to all the donors, businesses and funders who have made the work of Focus Ireland possible over the years.  “We want to pay a sincere thank you for all the great support we have received since 1985.  I know from Sr. Stan that this work has touched thousands of lives over 30 years. It’s a fitting time to congratulate all the people who have approached Focus Ireland over the years for achieving what they have in their lives and thanking them for placing their trust in our organisation to support them at their time of need.”

He added: “As we all know, things are sadly getting worse but all the good work that is being done shows that it is possible to prevent people from becoming homeless and it’s possible to help people to move on from being homeless. As I have said, the Government and state departments do provide vital support to NGO’s like Focus Ireland and on behalf of the people we work for we acknowledge this support and partnership.  However, at the same time it is also our job to highlight that more needs to be done and there are also other aspects of Government policy that are directly impacting on homelessness. Such as the consistent refusal to raise rent supplement levels to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.  These and other areas need action and we will be continuing our work in partnership with other NGOs, the various Departments and the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive here in Dublin to work to get the current crisis under control and also towards ending long-term homelessness by preventing families and single people from becoming homeless in the first place.”

Focus Ireland Press Release

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