Wicklow student helping the homeless with 'dignity packs'

Leaving Cert student Molly Comish came up with the idea to offer small bags full of daily essentials

Wicklow student helping the homeless with 'dignity packs'

Dignity Packs Ireland via Facebook

As the homeless crisis continues around the country, the accommodation shortage is proving a major challenge for charities and state agencies alike.

While housing dominates the headlines, it's easy to forget that homeless people face all manner of other day-to-day challenges - not least when it comes to accessing basic essentials. 

With that in mind, one student from Co Wicklow has come up with the novel idea of 'dignity packs'.

Loreto Bray student Molly Comish took a short break from her ongoing Leaving Cert exams to talk to Bobby Kerr on Down to Business.

She first felt compelled to do something when she was in Dublin city centre on Christmas Eve 2015.

"I just saw so many homeless people," she recalled. "I wanted to help, and I wanted to make a change."

The result has taken the form of Dignity Packs Ireland - an organisation dedicated to providing free bags full of essential hygiene products for people without a home.

The bags contain a range of different items - from toothpaste and a toothbrush, to toilet paper, wet wipes and deodorant. 

Image: Dignity Packs Ireland

Molly explained: "We've teamed up with another charity called Tiglin, and they have an outreach bus. We go on their bus every Friday night and we give them out.

"We've given 150 now since December - but we've realised that it's now an all year round thing."

Indeed, the current 'summer bags' include sunscreen in addition to the usual essentials.

Molly says the project has received support from businesses as well as members of the community.

She told Bobby: "A packaging company gave us 1,400 rucksacks. Superdrug, they opened a new store in Liffey Valley... they have given us a donation of 200 products.

"Tesco has [included us as] a community fund nominee. My school has helped fundraising. The community itself has donated and everything... it's incredible."

The idea received a boost when Molly was chosen as the Young Ambassador by the Bray Lions Club, and the project has received plenty of local and even international media interest.

How does Molly - who is hoping to study sociology or community & youth studies in college - hope the project will develop from here?

"We're partnering up with hopefully other charities in different counties," she said. "A cafe in Phibsborough called Bang Bang has teamed up with us, and they have a pack in their doorway. [Other] socially conscious cafes... we'd hopefully be able to go in with too."

While it looks as if Dignity Packs Ireland is going to expand significantly in the near future, Molly still has physics, accounting and Spanish exams to get through first!

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