The coronavirus crisis is causing a new wave of poverty and desperation around the country, according to a Dublin charity.
The Muslim Sisters of Éire has been handing out hot meals and care packages to people in need in Dublin for over six years.
On Moncreiff this afternoon, the charity’s Chairperson Lorraine O'Connor said there has been a big increase in the number of people seeking the charity’s help in recent months.
“What we see with rough sleepers we have been seeing for six years – people in desperate need you know, sleeping on the streets.
“The difference is that pre-COVID, there wasn’t as many. You can see an awful lot of people out on the streets now. An awful lot of sheer poverty and desperation out there.”
Ms O’Connor said the charity’s weekly stall outside the GPO O’Connell Street handed out 570 pre-packed meals on Friday night – with queues running right around to Henry Street.
“I suppose COVID has hit families,” she said. “It has hit people with jobs and it has hit people on social welfare with schools closed.
“We have families coming down who are saying, ‘look my children are eating me out of house and home, I can’t keep food on the table, we’ve only got our social welfare.
“‘My children used to go to school in the morning with a packed lunch and come home in the evening for dinner. Now they’re there all day and they’re bored so they are eating.’
“There is a new poverty trend starting that we are seeing more and more of.”
She said she offered a COVID-19 hygiene package to a young man sleeping in a tent while doing some outreach work last week and was “heartbroken” by his response.
“He said to me, ‘do you know what? I just wish I would get it because it would be the end of my misery,’” she said.
“I remember walking away and it just tore at my heart strings, it was so upsetting hearing that.
“He was wishing he was going to get this disease so it would end his misery and I had to, kind of, compose myself in the car, it affected me so much.
“These stories are not unusual – people are at that stage where they are in sheer desperation.”
Ms O’Connor said the public have been amazing in their support since the charity was established.
“From the Muslim Sisters of Eire, I need to thank the public out there,” she said. “They have been truly amazing.
“The Irish people are just great. They are very charitable people but they have done everything; the donations that have been coming in on our Twitter and our Facebook, keep us able to do this work.
“The public are just amazing. They are all in this together, they actually are.
“It is just our Government that needs to wake up.”
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