Its Friday Evening 24th February 2017 and Prime Bling (PB) is at a meeting point just outside the central bank, Off Dame street here in Dublin City for a arranged meeting. When I arrive at this meeting point the first thing that greets me is the sheer amount of people standing around tables and pop up tents waiting to be fed.
A group known as Your’re Not Alone, a non profit organization are busy feeding the homeless as they have been doing twice weekly for the past three or so years. They meet every Friday & Sunday from 8.pm to 10.pm to feed the homeless and provide them with essentials such as warm clothing, tea, coffee, sandwiches, snacks, and a warm greeting, a luxury some of us may take for granted.
Tonight’s meeting is a little different because the volunteers who help out with this task are actually sleeping out with the homeless.
Also on site is a group known as Rapid Relief Team, who are serving up burgers etc and who are only back from Italy after helping to feed the rescue workers who were involved with the very tragic avalanche rescue mission.
While I floated around this site I was so shocked to see just how many homeless people in Dublin City, is using this service. Having previously written many articles on our homeless crisis many a time I was still very shocked by the amount of people who were using these services.
I spoke to Barbara from the group Your’e Not Alone, who informed me that they can feed from a staggering 250 people per night. Also homeless today in Ireland is now sadly a family unit not the stereotype male that used to be. While I was standing there I seen families using these services.
Barbara informed me that she spends her own cash to buy example ham, bread, soup ingredients, she also informed me that some Tesco branches donate food that they can’t or won’t sell. We have a shortage of men’s clothing and as we are a non profit organization we cannot accept cash as a donation but we do accept shop vouchers such as Tesco or Aldi vouchers to name a couple then they are shared out amongst the group of volunteers who can change them for goods in the shops to give out to the homeless.
While I was there I spoke to a least ten people from all different kind of backgrounds who are in the homeless sector. For the purpose of this publication Prime Bling (PB) has changed some of their real names.
Anto is homeless for 6 years he was one of those homeless people who was staying in Apollo House. Anto lives in a hostel in Dublin City known as Camden Hall. At the moment Anto is on the housing list and I asked Anto if he had a chance to say anything to Enda Kenny what would he like to say? Anto replied, that if he had of seen Mr. Kenny that he would not shake the mans hand.
Anto hopes to get housed in the Ballybrack and or Shankhill, area of Dublin City but is not holding on to much hope with the way the way the housing list is gone.
Mary not her real name is a mother of 4 kids because of her background situation she found herself been placed into the homeless sector after been released from prison. Prior to Mary going to prison she placed her 3 eldest children into the care of her mother on the grounds that when she was released she would be reunited with them and to keep them out of the system which involves been put in to the state care.
After a few weekends out of prison on weekend releases before she was finally released she found herself pregnant. Her little girl was born and both her & Mary currently live in accommodation which is ran by a religious order on the North side of Dublin City.
Mary is at college at the moment and hopes to gain employment when she leaves college.
However at the moment Mary is not allowed to have her other 3 children living with her and the baby, despite Mary paying rent. Only this week the kids where given their mid term break from school and they wanted to spend sometime with their mother and sister. The management at this live in housing development informed Mary that her other 3 children where not welcomed to stay with Mary.
Mary ignored the so called rules and her three children spent last weekend with her and now its causing some friction towards Mary from the management who want to see Mary out saying things like Mary does not need the kind of help that they offer.
Mary comes down at least twice a week and thinks that the homeless situation here in Ireland is shamefully not been looked after propelly and she feels injustice is been done. However despite Mary’s situation Mary herself pointed out she is blessed in what she has as there are worse of here tonight that have no where to live, sleep, eat, etc
At least Mary can close her door when she goes home and that her and her daughter are safe warm and have somewhere to sleep.
I got talking to another young man who only just turned 19 last October his name is Darrell he lives in a tent. He was brought up in care due to his mother passing away. He was just shy of his 18th birthday when the state let him slip through the nets when then he found himself homeless. Despite him been so young he has learned how to survive on our streets.
He was living in a tent in Milltown Dublin City last year, he was just one of the few people living in tents in and around Milltown, but the Council kept moving him on from one piece of ground to another. He points out he is no longer with a group of people but living on his own in a field in a tent a danger itself.
I asked Darrell if he could say anything to Edna Kenny what would he say? Darrell replied by saying that Mr Kenny is a ****** and if he could prevent children of this and the next generation of going or becoming homeless then he needs to act now.
Darrell also pointed out that the marvelous work that is been done by the group, You’re Not Alone, are very good but they should not have to do this, that the Irish government should have something more efficient on the ground to help Darrell and other people like him who find themselves in this crisis.
Darrell told he he feels safer sleeping in a tent than he would in some of the hostels that are operating here in Dublin City for the homeless and or on sleeping on the streets.
Dan another man only 4 months ago returned home to Ireland after been living in the UK for the past 16 or so years. Dan had no where to go and found himself in the homeless sector. At 1st he was been offered a place to sleep in a place called (MQP) Merchant Quay Project here in Dublin City. But because Dan has no addiction issues he found (MQP) to be overwhelming with drug and alcohol abuse that he requested to be moved to another facility on those grounds.
At first he was put into different hostels but they too had similar problems if it was not the drugs and drinks it was the no sleep nights as he stressed to inform me that it could be 3: am in the morning when other clients would start shouting at each other then there would be fighting and all other anti social problems would then follow.
At the moment Dan is having to phone the now infamous telephone bed line that does not always guarantee a bed, in the hope of getting a decent place to stay. He informed me he had to phone them at 10.30 Pm to see was there any beds available and if not that he was going to sleep out with the volunteers he had a sleeping bag on him just in case.
Maria is a volunteer and comes in to Dublin City twice a week with her hubby. Maria’s father passed on quite recently as Maria was his career since his passing Maria has found she has some spare time on her hands. Her husband seen it on fb that volunteers where wanted to help out and he made his way in to Dublin City to help out. Since her husband became a volunteer Maria too joined up and she explained its like a way of giving back to the community and since she and her husband joined Your’re Not Alone, they have met a ton of new friends and it makes them feel good to be able to help someone who needs it.
I asked Maria if she could say anything to Enda Kenny what would she say? She replied Enda is a ******* Spanner and that he should be ashamed of himself she would also like to invite him to come one of the nights to see for himself and that the people that they are helping are someones kids.
While I stood there for the three or so hours I seen so many people been helped it was a shock just to see the sheer amount of homeless people in our city of Dublin. I can’t believe that our City and country has so much homeless we need to act to stop this crisis we need to all pull together and let homeless become our past not our future.
We need better conditions from our government to ensure that people who find themselves homeless or find them at risk of been homeless have something put into place to prevent them becoming homeless. We need the government to prevent banks from reprocessing homes, stop greedy landlords from putting up the rents.
What have we do do? We will need to hold vigils outside banks that repossess homes and then leave them empty till they sell, We need to hold vigils outside government buildings till we get ahead of the homeless crisis, or simply we need to vote in a new government who is willing to fix the homeless crisis here in Ireland.
As I stood outside the central bank that rainy night last Friday in 2017 I was horrified, disgusted, ashamed, to say this is Ireland today.
101 years after the Irish Easter Rising and we have homeless on our streets we need to do something today rather than tomorrow.
You’re Not Alone is a non profit organization and they are all volunteers some of them even travel from Wicklow here in Ireland to help feed our homeless twice a week. Because they are not a registered charity they can not accept cash donations as I pointed out at the start of this article they can however accept shop vouchers, they badly need men’s clothing, etc etc If you can help that would be be great you can telephone or text Barbara on 085-706-0164, who can arrange a van to collect clothing etc from you.
If you are homeless and need some help you can catch Your’e Not Alone twice weekly outside the central bank, Dublin City facing the pub Foggy Dew, Fridays and Sundays from 8:pm till 10.pm, and you can get food, hot liquids, clothing, etc
Up and coming Irish rap musician Cale Smith also showed up show support at this sleep out.
The Rapid Relief Team served up nearly 300 burgers again they too are all volunteers and they belong to a church, and they are known as Plymouth Brethren Church and their fb page at https://www.facebook.com/PlymouthBrethrenChristianChurch
Your’e Not Alone fb page is https://www.facebook.com/HelpTheHomelessWicklow/
Image Credit: Alan Finn