Sinead Grimes has created a page where facts about homelessness can be easily presented and understood
The Christmas period may be the 'most wonderful time of the year' for many - but for others the opposite is true.
The winter months are particularly challenging for homeless people. For anyone sleeping rough or stuck in emergency accommodation, the festive season brings many difficulties: from the very serious implications of the cold weather to the loneliness of Christmas without a home.
It is a vitally important time of the year to raise awareness of the situation facing Ireland's homeless. And the situation is very much a crisis: figures from the Department of Housing show there were 1,178 homeless families across the country at the end of October.
Sinead Grimes from Co Galway is one person doing her part to keep the homelessness crisis at the forefront of people's minds during the month of December.
Sinead is running a Facebook campaign called No Room between now and Christmas. Her modern take on the idea of 'no room at the inn' aims to raise awareness of the scale of the homeless crisis, as well as raising funds for three homeless charities: The Simon Community, Focus Ireland, and COPE Galway.
"The whole reason I was thinking about homelessness was I had been in Galway City, and I had seen a couple just lying out on the ground - which I’d never seen before," Sinead told Newstalk.com.
The issue of homelessness also came up when she was at home with her two kids. "[I was] trying to bring it home to them to be grateful for what they have," she said. "But I realised that I didn’t know an awful lot of the facts about homelessness. Simple questions that a kid would ask - like ‘how many are sleeping rough?’ - I couldn’t answer."
This prompted her to create a page where facts and figures about homelessness can be easily presented, digested and understood.
"I thought with 25 days of Christmas, you could have 25 different posts with different aspects of homelessness - just to bring home to people what is happening," she explained.
So far, the No Room page has been used to share stories, maps, news, videos and other content aimed at emphasising just how severe the homeless crisis is in Ireland has become.
One of the most popular posts so far has been one quoting Ryan Turbidy's message during the Late Late Toy Show to children in temporary housing.
"His quote was so simple, but it was very effective - and that was one of the most effective posts on the site," Sinead observed. "That one traveled further than a lot of the facts."
Meanwhile, a fundraising campaign linked with the page has already raised €1,500 for the three charities - having reached its initial €1,000 target in only a few days.
"The funding is very, very important, but I’m not looking at this campaign as a final total raised," Sinead stressed. "I do want to advertise that Focus Ireland, Simon and Cope are doing their own fundraising, and I will be putting links to their pages so they can get donations as well.
"Whatever money is raised in this will go directly to each of the three charities - but I also want to say to people to give directly if they’re more comfortable with that.
“The one thing I’m hearing from all agencies is they are completely stretched, and they really are reaching out to people to help at this time of year," she added.
The No Room campaign has also proven more successful than Sinead had hoped. "It’s fantastic, the response that I have had," she said. "The reach of some of the posts has gone far beyond anything I’d hoped."