Because everyone deserves a helping hand this time of year
This weekend, an estimated 15,000 people took to the streets of Dublin to protest Ireland’s current housing crisis. And no wonder there’s outrage; the Housing Department recently released its updated homeless figures which revealed there are now 9,724 people officially as homeless across the country. However, Tina McVeigh of People Before Profit claimed this figure is just the “sharp edge of the wedge” and Brian McLoughlin from Inner City Helping Homeless told breakingnews.ie that, in the last four years, “the number of children facing Christmas in emergency accommodation has gone up 450%”.
This injustice is particularly heartbreaking around Christmas when, according to business group Retail Ireland, households spend an average of €2,960 in stores. How can some have so much, while others have so little?
If you want to create change this Chrimbo, here are few simple ways you can help those who need it. Because as Mammy used to say, bringing happiness to others is the true meaning of the holiday, right?
1.Organise a Focus Ireland Christmas Jumper Day
Focus Ireland is a leading not-for-profit organisation that works to prevent people becoming, remaining or returning to homelessness you’ve probably seen the posters for their Christmas Jumper Appeal plastered about. To support this fantastic initiative and the people it helps, all you need to do is hold a Christmas Jumper Day at your school/office/coven HQ where everyone rocks up in a wacky winter woolly in exchange for a lil donation. You could even ask your pals to sponsor you to knit your own Christmas jumper or approach local businesses to supply a prize for the most outrageous outfit – just make sure you snap plenty of pics!
For more information about the Christmas Jumper Appeal, check out Focus Ireland’s webpage: https://www.focusireland.ie/get-involved/christmasjumperappeal/
If you’ve got even a few hours to spare between Kris Kringle shopping and turkey basting, one of the many volunteer organisations in Ireland would love your helping hand. Head over to national database I-VOL, pop ‘Christmas’ into the keyword search bar, and scroll to find the right volunteering opportunity for you. Remember to double check you’re registered with your local Volunteer Centre (a quick and easy process) and that you read the description of each role carefully to make sure it’s compatible with your other commitments.
Check out I-VOL here: https://www.volunteer.ie/volunteers/find-a-volunteer-role/
3. Use Your Voice
Contact the TD in your constituency and demand change. Focus Ireland recommends you ask your local TD to use their power to call on the government to develop a specific strategy to tackle and prevent homelessness, allocated every homeless family a case manager, and provide enough emergency accommodation that no one should have to sleep rough this winter.
This one is probably the easiest of the whole lot! Put simply; if you see a homeless person on the street, don’t just ignore them. Instead, recognise their humanity by giving them a smile, stopping for the chat, pointing them in the direction of a local shelter or the services of a homeless aid organisation, or purchasing them a hot drink and sandwich with the loose change in your pocket.
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