Focus Ireland's Shine a Light sleep out raises €350,000

Last night around 80 people slept rough outside Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin as part of Focus...

13.20 17 Oct 2015

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Focus Ireland's Shine...

Focus Ireland's Shine a Light sleep out raises €350,000


13.20 17 Oct 2015

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Last night around 80 people slept rough outside Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin as part of Focus Ireland’s Shine a Light campaign, raising a massive €350,000 in pledges.

Focus Ireland says there has been "an unprecedented rise" in the number of families losing their homes in the past 18 months, with dozens of families now losing their homes each month. 

The homeless charity asked a number of Ireland’s leading business figures, including Newstalk’s Bobby Kerr, host of Down to Business.


As part of the experience, Bobby recorded a number of videos throughout the night:

He also spoke to a number of entrepreneurs and CEOs about why they were participating, and what needs to be done to solve the homelessness crisis.

Head of Irish Operations at Paypal Louise Phelan said “its about experiencing what homelessness really is.” It was the second time she had taken part, it having been a rainy affair two years ago. She said Paypal employees had raised over €9,500.

“I’m cross,” said broadcaster and Harmonia CEO Norah Casey, expressing her disappointment at the Government and its recent budget. “It gets to the point where you need to make a bit of noise.”

“You and me both – if we were given the budget– would eradicate homelessness,” she told Bobby.

Ms Casey pointed to Utah, which she says has eliminated homelessness, and rubbished plans for temporary, prefabricated housing – “There’s tonnes of accommodation all over Ireland – we don’t need to be building prefabs out in East Wall.”

Stability is key for people who are homeless, she said. “We can’t do interventions otherwise.”

John Cunningham of the Immigrant Council Of Ireland highlighted the plight of immigrants, some of whom fall through the cracks after arriving in Ireland. He referred to the ‘forgotten Irish’ of London, who suffered from isolation, depression and alcoholism.

Chef Derry Clarke of L'Ecrivain said it was “nothing really, what we're doing here tonight,” when compared with those who sleep rough each night. A roof over our heads and a hot meal are things we take for granted, he added.

Things that we take for granted are a roof over our head and a hot meal.

By 2am, most participants were asleep – forming “a sea of orange survival bags,” as Bobby put it.

It was a beautifully clear night, he said, but noise was ever-present – “The city never seems to sleep – horses, drunks, people roaring and shouting  - it’s something that really struck me.”

“I got a couple of hours kip, which I’m grateful for,” said Bobby.” I’m also grateful I don’t have to do this again, and that it was voluntary.”

“It was a night I enjoyed, but coupled with thoughts for those who have to do this every night.”

Listen to the full podcast below:

Focus Ireland's Shine a Light sleep out raises €350,000

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Bobby also took part in a panel discussion in the cathedral crypt, and was joined by Managing Director of Google Ireland Ronan Harris, CEO of Focus Irleand Ashley Balbirnie, and Service Manager of Focus Ireland John O'Hare.

Mr Harris spoke about family homelessness, saying that when he first got involved with Focus Ireland four years ago he thought homelessness was "the chap sitting on the ground by the ATM."

In 2012, 8-10 families per month were becoming homeless; today that figure has shot to 80. "I cant believe it's ten times worse in only three years," he said.

Many are unable to live normal lives, with whole families living in hotel rooms, and so more needs to be done to prevent homelessness before it occurs, he added.

Mr Balbirnie told of the "huge challenge" of funding Focus Ireland - state funding makes up only 60% of spending, and spending increases are necessary.

"We're not doing enough," he said. "We'd like to be doing much more than we are doing and that's why a night like this is so important to us."

"We're tying to shift focus back on prevention," said Mr O'Hare. Focus Ireland is working with about 300 households who are at risk of losing their homes, assisting with rent and landlord problems.

"When we get in early, with tenants and landlords, there's goodwill from both."

90% of people who approach Focus Ireland have never been homeless before, and rent and housing supply are what push people off the edge.

Listen to the full panel discussion below:

If you'd like to donate to Focus Ireland, you can do so online.

89c of every euro donated goes to frontline services. 

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