Volunteers for the 2019 sponsored sleepout for Drogheda Homless AId pictured at a briefing in the charity's shelter yesterday. Back row (from left): Anne White, Abolanie Sowunmi, Tanya Adair, Mihaela Balan and Tunrayo Aransiola. Front: Margaret Reilly, Maureen Ward (Manager DHA) and Simon Lockwood. Photo: Andy Spearman.
As the cold winter nights draw in much of our time is spent trying to keep warm and, as we turn the central heating up a notch, our thoughts might well turn to the plight of those who are homeless or sleeping rough in our community.
How are they are coping? We wonder. On Saturday December 7th next 15 or more hardy souls will find out first hand as they take part in this year’s sponsored sleep out on West Street to highlight the ongoing homeless crisis and to support the work that Drogheda Homeless Aid (DHA) is doing in alleviating it.
According to DHA manager Maureen Ward, “This is an important event to raise awareness of the existence of homelessness in the county and the need to raise much needed funds to support the work of Drogheda Homeless Aid.”
The Sleep Out is the organisation’s biggest annual fundraiser and helps to raise in excess of €50,000 annually to address the organisation’s €150,000 shortfall in funding.
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“The image of homelessness that some people have is that it is confined to Dublin; unfortunately, it is a reality in Drogheda and everywhere else in the country too. Unfortunately, DHA is finding, that year on year the situation is getting worse as more and more people are presenting as homeless and this in turn puts huge pressure on Drogheda Homeless Aid in addressing a growing need” Maureen continues.
“It is not just the shortage of affordable accommodation that is the issue, but as a country we are not really doing enough in terms of addressing the many reasons behind the causes of homelessness, for example mental health or addiction issues or relationship breakdowns which can all contribute to homelessness.”
Drogheda Homeless Aid has supported 154 individuals in its emergency accommodation facility in the past year and 25 were assisted in exiting homelessness and are now living independently.
DHA provided over 21,500 hot meals last year for residents and for former residents as well as for older people living in the Drogheda area. Drogheda Homeless Aid is also a provider of social housing and last year provided housing for 35 homeless women, men and for families, on both a short-term/transitional and on a long-term basis.
Drogheda Homeless Aid is once again fortunate to have support from of local businesses and Drogheda Chamber of Commerce, with a number signing up for the sleep out to help DHA realise their monetary target, and equally to highlight to the public that there appears to be no end in sight to the homeless crisis.
“The whole experience opened my eyes to what some people go through day in, day out” said Robert Murray the Vice President of Drogheda Chamber who participated in the sponsored sleep out in 2018 and will do so again this year.
“It is only for one night, but for those who have no place to call home or who must sleep out, they have to with wet or freezing conditions and potential danger.
“The Sleep Out made me aware of how some people are forced to live their life like this and thankfully, we were able to do our bit to help tackle homelessness in Louth and Meath.”
Margaret Reilly of Grand Designs will be joined by her brother Ian on the Sleep Out. “It’s my way of giving back and I feel the need to do this so I’m walking in the shoes of those who are unfortunate to find themselves without a place to call home” she said.
Please keep an eye out for DHA’s collectors on the 7th December and support the 2019 sleep out by giving as generously as in previous years. If you wish to participate in the Sponsored Sleep Out please contact Maureen Ward Maureen.email@example.com.
Alternatively, DHA is seeking volunteer ‘bucket shakers’ to undertake collections for them during the day of the 7th of December and again Maureen would be happy to hear from you.
For more information about Drogheda Homeless Aid see: dha.ie