A Dublin homeless charity has shared a heartbreaking image of a five-year-old boy eating his dinner on a sheet of cardboard on a Dublin City Centre street.
The Homeless Street Café said the situation on the city’s streets is “only getting worse each week.”
The charity said the child is in emergency accommodation and attends school.
It said its volunteers are working with his mother to ensure he has access to nutritious home-cooked meals, noting “most emergency accommodations strictly forbid cooking or food preparation.”
In a Facebook post that has reached over 250,000 people, a volunteer with the charity said: “We are home after another incredibly busy night.”
“I’m exhausted, weary and emotional and should (guiltily) go to bed but there is an image burnt in all the teams’ minds tonight.
“It’s wrong and it’s distressing but this is happening and it’s only getting worse each week.”
“'Sam' is five and this was him eating a dinner of carbonara tonight on a sheet of cardboard.
“Can we really accept this?”
In a later update, the charity said the post had an “overwhelming response” and thanked the public for not “just accepting that this is OK.”
“Our priority, as always, is continuing to support the homeless who come to us each week and the children among them that ‘Sam’ represents,” it said.
According to the latest figures from the Department of Housing, there are now 10,338 people accessing State emergency accommodation.
That includes 3,848 children.
The number of people accessing emergency accommodation has stood above 10,000 since March.
The Government has continued to invest in emergency accommodation – with €166m set aside to fund emergency homeless services next year.
Homeless charities labelled the Budget 2020 funding pledge a “missed opportunity” and warned that meaningful investment in social housing is needed to tackle the crisis.
They are also calling for increased investment in measures aimed at preventing people from falling into homelessness.