Opinion Piece - The Herald

(01 Dec 2017)

Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy, Founder & Life President of Focus Ireland writes in the Herald today:

You may be reading this on your way home tonight. You'll see the Christmas decorations and people shopping for presents as we enter the month of December. 

Tonight is a special night for families nationwide as they will sit down together to watch the Late Late Toy Show.   It is an annual event that people enjoy in their homes as we watch children being happy in the innocence of childhood. Sadly, not every child has a home as a record number of over 3000 children will be homeless this Christmas.  They are suffering and being homeless is robbing them of their childhood. 

Last Christmas I wrote in the Herald about the 2,400 children who were homeless.   This has now shot up by 25% to a record total of 3,194 children homeless.  When we include adults there are now a shocking total of 8,374 people homeless nationwide. 

It is clear that the housing and homelessness crisis is getting worse.   There was another tragic death in Dublin this week of a man sleeping rough.  May he rest in peace.   

The reasons for people sleeping rough can be complex but they can be tackled if the political will and the access to housing are both in place.   We must all put our energy into helping those impacted, and finding practical solutions. We need to end homelessness in Ireland because it is morally and fundamentally wrong.   It breaks my heart to know that across Dublin in 2017 more children have been born into homelessness than ever before.  Some of them will spend their first Christmas stuck with their family, forced to live in one little room together.  This is truly awful and it makes me think back to what Christmas is all about and to the first Christmas in Bethlehem when nobody would take in Mary and Joseph and Mary had to give birth to Jesus in a stable and lay him in a manger.    I am sure this will strike a chord with everyone no matter what their beliefs are, similarly these children today have also been turned away and left as homeless.  They are our children too and we have a duty as a society to provide a safe home for them. 

This is what we are working to do.  Our Family Team in Dublin helps one family a day to secure a home, in partnership with the Dublin Regional Housing Executive & Local Authorities, and escape the nightmare of homelessness. However, at the same time at least two more families are still losing their homes and becoming homeless every day. More single people are also being forced into homelessness due to rising rents, evictions and a critical shortage of affordable housing. How can we stand by while families and their children who are homeless are forced to live in one hotel room for months at a time? 

There is nowhere safe for the children to play, do their homework or for the family to even cook a meal. This is causing terrible damage for these families and also the many single people who are homeless stuck in hostels or some even sleeping on the streets. 

Focus Ireland continues to put forward realistic policy solutions to help prevent and end homelessness.  While the crisis is still deepening the situation would be much worse without the lifeline services and housing we provide. We are there when people need us.  We have already supported 600 more people this year compared to the same period in 2016.  Meanwhile we have also supported over 300 families to secure a home and escape homelessness so far, this year.  

While the State supports some of our work Focus Ireland also has to raise 40% (or €2 out of every €5) of what it costs to keep our services and housing running through donations & corporate support. We work hard to support families and individuals every day and not just at Christmas, but we depend on donations now more than ever to raise funds so our services can cope with the constantly rising demand.  

I am asking people to please give what they can afford to support our urgent Christmas appeal.   Focus Ireland always stresses that every euro donated counts in the battle against homelessness as 89 cents of every euro received goes directly to our services to support people who are homeless and those at risk.  

Any donation will support our work challenging homelessness and changing lives as we help over 13,500 each year who are homeless or at risk.  We also provide over 800 homes nationwide. People can please donate at   or  at Ph: 1850 204 205. 

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© 2024 Sister Stanislaus Kennedy
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