For most of us having a home is something we don’t even notice or think about. We take having our own space for granted because it’s all we have ever known. Becoming homeless seems almost unthinkable, something that could never happen to us. Yet it is happening to nearly 1, 200 families in Ireland today. This is a stark number especially when you realise it includes over 2, 400 children.
Ireland in 2016 is seeing rents rise at a scary rate and with minimum wage being a whole €2.35 less than the calculated living wage we find a situation where more and more people can’t afford a roof over their heads. There seems to be no control over how much private landlords can charge and as for owning a home? This seems to be just a pipe dream for many.
Focus Ireland aims to tackle the growing issue of homelessness in Ireland. They have now launched their Christmas appeal which will include TV, radio and outdoor ads as well as runs over the coming weeks leading up to Christmas. The outdoor ad features a mother and her child alongside the stark line: “Homelessness. We can’t live like this anymore.”
Sr. Stan launched the campaign outside Government Buildings in Dublin. She spoke passionately of the terrible impact being homeless has on children – and families – as she said: “Christmas should be one of the happiest times of year for children and their families. However, it breaks my heart to think that up to 2,500 children will be homeless on Christmas day this year.”
She added: “I know from meeting families who are homeless that we support it’s the children who feel it the worst. Many times a family who are homeless are often squeezed into one hotel room – 3 or 4 people in one room, nowhere to cook or for children to play. There are also many single people and couples homeless and they all need a place to call home.”
Sr. Stan highlighted the vital role Focus Ireland plays in today’s society. In the first ten months of 2016 its family team , in partnership with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and local authorities, have helped 230 families and just under 450 children in Dublin to secure a home. The charity also continues to support hundreds of families who are still homeless and living in hotels and b & bs.
Raising children without a home of their own is something no parent wishes to experience yet it is the sad reality for many today. One mother, Gillian, was homeless but has now secured a home with the support of Focus Ireland.
Heartbreakingly, Gillian’s own baby was only 2 weeks old when they became homeless. The agony of this, the stress, the feelings of helplessness…I can only imagine. When my own daughter was 2 weeks old we worried we would never sleep again…..our worries seem very small in comparison. We take our homes for granted, really, a roof over our heads is something so common-place we forget that there are many out there for whom a home of their own would be a luxury. A home should not be considered a luxury, it is a basic human right.
Gillian admits that she wakes up everyday and thinks ‘I have a home.’
Sr. Stan said: “We are working hard to support these families every day and not just at Christmas but we depend on donations at this time of year more than ever to raise vital funds so our services can cope with the rising demand. I am asking people to please give what they can afford to support our urgent Christmas appeal. Any donation will help us to directly support these families and also help fund our work to prevent other families and single people from becoming homeless in the first place.”
The charity said this Christmas will be a very challenging time as demand for its services continues to rise following the charity’s busiest year ever last year as it supported over 12,500 people who were homeless or at risk. Focus Ireland stressed that every euro donated counts in the battle against homelessness as 89 cents of every euro received by the charity goes directly to services to support people who are homeless and those at risk.
Focus Ireland said its new campaign aims to keep homelessness firmly on the public and political agenda in the countdown to Christmas. The charity works to support over 12,500 people each year and aims to provide 600 more homes by 2019 to help tackle the growing homeless crisis. Focus Ireland aims to deliver 150 homes a year over the next four years – to double its current housing stock.
Please call 1850 204 205 or click here to donate to this great cause and help Focus Ireland to continue its fantastic work.
**This post is part of a Blog March by members of the Irish Parenting Bloggers network, to raise awareness of homelessness and Focus Ireland’s campaign. You can read more posts on the subject by following the hashtag #FocusOnChristmas on social media. Thank you. **