So this week I’m going to talk about something that is a little bit different for my blog. If you come here for fashion and travel – don’t leave yet. I promise what you’ll read here will open your eyes and your heart to things that are much more important. I know I’m lucky to have this blog and to have such lovely people reading it. I want to take the opportunity to divert your eyes from fashion and matieral things every now and again, and to raise awareness about things that are more worthy.
Why This Topic?
Tonight, I’m judging the Battle of the Bands competition in the Limerick Institute of Technology in aid of Focus Ireland with a particular focus on Youth Housing (watch this video to get a better idea). Focus Ireland provides services for homeless people. It is the largest national voluntary association in Ireland. If you watched my Vlogmas, you’ll know that before Christmas, on one of the colder nights, Gerard and I swapped a date night at the cinema for a night helping the homeless. I didn’t share it on social media, mainly because I didn’t want people to think I was doing it for a pat on the back. But on second thought, we should be proud to share these things. Even more so than the other great parts of our lives we show on Instagram everyday. Anyway, we walked around Dublin City Centre for 2 hours giving hats, scarves and gloves and offering teas and coffees. There was other people out helping that night too – but anyone we helped appreciated it so much. They were so friendly, and kind to everyone. I just wanted to do something good that might help those people sleeping rough – but I can’t explain how much my eyes were opened, I feel like I gained more than they did, which definitely wasn’t my intention. I was reminded how lucky I am to have a home and how many kind people there are in the world – no matter what their situation is.
Homelessness is a huge, complex issue with lots of different factors affecting it. According to Focus Ireland, homelessness is caused by ‘structural factors’ and ‘personal factors’. Structural factors include: lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty, and inadequate mental health services. Personal factors include: addictions, mental health issues and family breakdown. The current rise in family homelessness is mainly due to structural economic factors.
I want to share some facts and figures, so that we can all understand the extent of the crisis. I also want to give ideas for small things we can do to try and help. It can be as small as saying hello to someone, or even just acknowledging them.
Facts and Figures
- In December 2017 (Christmas week) there were 8,587 people homeless across Ireland
- 3,079 of them were children.
- This figure has increased 17% since the same time in 2016. (It also doesn’t include people who are sleeping rough, in squats, or in womens homes.)
- The official number of people sleeping rough (on the streets and not in hostels) in Dublin alone in November 2017 was 184.
The Peter McVerry trust highlight who they work with:
- Average age 32
- 80% Male, 20% Female
- 60% need mental health support
- 72% need support in relation to family
- 81% need support with drug use
What we can do?
As I said above it’s a really complex issue, that needs a lot of attention, funding and help in many areas in order to see an improvement in the current situation. However, as it’s a problem that’s not going away any time soon we have to ask what can we actually do now that will help in some way?
There are two main ways we can help:
- We can have empathy and show compassion for those who are struggling
- We can be proactive in helping them – there are lots of small, practical things we can do to help make their day a little brighter, and to make their situation feel a little less lonely.
Below I’ve written a list of 5 things anyone can do:
- Acknowledge them with a smile or nod.
Remember these are people who are going through an extremely hard time – 60% of homeless people need help with their mental health. Feeling isolated and lonely only add to these issues. Remind them they’re not alone or invisible with a quick smile.
Donate money to a charity that works with people experiencing homelessness and struggling with addiction (I’ll list some Irish charities below). Even one euro makes a difference. Irish charities have been asking people to donate their water charges refund to charity. The Irish Water Repayment scheme will see €173 million refunded to Irish people. Even if a small percentage of that was donated it would be huge for Irish charities serving the homeless. You can donate to Focus Ireland here.
- Donate old clothes and shoes
Focus Ireland have ‘Beloved’ shops around Ireland where they sell new and pre-owned items in order to raise funds. See their locations here.
- Offer to buy someone a tea or coffee
January, February and March are very cold, wet months in Ireland. Offering someone your kindness and a cup of warmth could make all the difference to a someones night.
- Give your time
Whether it’s working on your own fundraising event, handing out warm clothes and food to people on cold, winter nights or just buying someone lunch and having a quick chat with them – these things can make a huge difference. Charities are always looking for volunteers as well, so if you’re not sure where to start drop one of them a message or a call and they will be able to advise. I know in Dublin there is one called a Hand Lending that goes out with food, clothes and toiletries every Monday night. You can see the Facebook page here.
I hope you found this a little bit insightful and useful,
Remember “No act of kind of kindness, however small, is ever wasted”,
I’ll list some of the Irish charities that provide services to the homeless below, and do let me know if you decide to do something as a result of this post – I’d love to know,
Thanks for reading guys,
Irish Charities that help with Homelessness