2014-12-19 12:10:00

Spotlight on the homeless in Ireland

(Vatican Radio) Over the Christmas season people will be gathering with family and friends to celebrate the birth of Our Lord. But for many who don’t have a home, they will be looking to homeless charities for a place to sleep and eat.

Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s interview with Sr Stanislaus Kennedy of Focus Ireland

Focus Ireland is a non- profit organization that has been working for nearly thirty years providing services and support to people living on the streets.

Its mission statement is "to advance the right of people-out-of-home to live in a place they call home through quality services, research, and advocacy".

The organisation was founded by Sr Stanislaus (Stan) Kennedy who is still actively involved in its running today.

Speaking to Lydia O’Kane she said the situation for people and for families is much worse than it was thirty years ago, because she adds “the government and successive governments didn’t build houses for over twenty years, (i.e) houses to rent … and so the waiting lists got longer and longer and now there are a hundred thousand people on waiting lists, so that pool of people are falling into homelessness …”

Sr Stan also said that, on top of that, there is a shortage of housing not only in the public sector but in the private as well and so, “it’s free reign for the landlord and so the rents are going up, the people can’t pay the rent and every day they are becoming homeless”.

The spotlight was firmly shone on the issue of homelessness in Ireland when a man died just a few metres away from the country’s parliament in Dublin at the beginning of December. Following a public outcry the government said that everyone sleeping rough would have a bed for Christmas. But as Sr Kennedy explains, what is needed is a long term homeless strategy that runs not only at this time of year but all year round. “A bed is not just for Christmas”, she said.

But as the birth of Jesus approaches, Focus Ireland will be making sure that those who will be coming through its doors during this Christmas season will be given a bed, food and a sprinkling hope.


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