How can I help homeless people in Ireland?
The majority of homeless people now in Ireland are those living in Emergency Accommodation
There were 9,987 people homeless in the week of January 21st-27th 2019 across Ireland according to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. The number of homeless families has increased by 15% since December 2017 and more than one in three people in emergency accommodation is a child. Outside of those figures are the “hidden homeless” which refers to people living in squats or with friends and women and children staying in domestic violence refuges. The national figure also do not include people who are sleeping rough on the streets. In November 2018, the official rough sleeping count confirmed 156 people sleeping rough in Dublin.
Are there many homeless young people in Ireland?
According to Focus Ireland the main cause of the currently homelessness crisis is the broken housing system in Ireland. Vulnerable young people can be heavily impacted by the housing crisis, with private landlords, social housing bodies and local authorities not willing to rent to them.
At the end of December 2018:
- There were over 869 young people (adults aged under 25) living in emergency homeless accommodation
- This is an 82% increase from December 2014
- 65% of these young people live in Dublin
Young people who grew up in care can often become homeless due to lack of support after leaving care. After leaving care, it can be difficult to find accommodation especially if they are unemployed and without support from a family. As a young person who is unemployed it is also extremely difficult to pay rent on jobseeker’s allowance or benefits as they receive a reduced rate of social welfare payment.
SpunOut.ie is part of the Irish Coalition to End Youth Homelessness which was established in September 2017. The coalition is made up of 16 members who work together to lobby for policy change and a youth homelessness strategy.
How can I help homeless people in Ireland?
It is important to remember that when we are talking about homeless people in Ireland that the majority of people who are homeless are in emergency accommodation, with a small number sleeping rough. Regardless of whether someone is sleeping rough, living in emergency accommodation, or is experiencing hidden homelessness, it is important to see the person first, not the problem.
If a person who is sleeping rough speaks to you on the street, it is important to acknowledge them. If someone asks you for money answer them and, if you can, ask them if they would like you to buy them a drink or sandwich instead. You can acknowledge someone through a smile and a hello but remember that it is also important to respect a person’s privacy. If a homeless person does not want to talk or open up to you respect that and do not pry for more information.
Give regularly to homeless charities
It is better to give to a homeless charity than to give money directly to a homeless person. Giving to a charity ensures that your money is spent in the best possible way to help those experiencing homelessness. Across Ireland there are many charities that work to help end homelessness. They do this through supplying food, emergency accommodation and many other resources to help people get back on their feet. Some of the homeless charities in Ireland include Focus Ireland, the Dublin Simon Community and the Peter McVerry Trust. If you would like to donate to a homeless charity but are not sure which one to choose the best place to start is to research homeless charities in Ireland online. If you find a charity that you think you would like to donate to you can then check to see if they are a registered charity at charitiesregulator.ie. Most charities will have a section on their website where you can then register to donate either as a one off or a recurring payment.
Lobby politicians about the homeless crisis
Our currently homeless crisis is caused by a lack of public housing and the continuous costs of rising rents around the country. Without affordable public housing, people who are pushed out of the rental market due to high costs and lack of accommodation can end up homeless. Over the last decade, due to the lack of social and private housing being built, more people are renting in Ireland than ever before. According to Focus Ireland almost one in five households now live in privately rented accommodation compared to one in ten ten years ago. This has led to huge pressure on the private rental market which has led to constantly rising rent levels and a shortage of properties to rent.
The Government can choose to change the current housing crisis through the regulation of the rental market and by building more social housing. If you would like to influence your local politicians to create positive change and help end the homeless crisis you can do so by lobbying them. You can lobby your local politicians in several different ways both as an individual or as a group. You can learn about how to lobby your local politicians on housing and homelessness here.
Who you choose to vote for is also another way support homeless people by supporting parties and politicians whose housing policies support increased investment in social housing and reform of the private rental market.
Donate old clothes that are in good condition
Merchants Quay Ireland is a homeless and drugs service that accepts clothes donations. They accept both clothes and toiletries as donations to help their service users stay dry, warn and healthy. If you would like to donate items to Merchants Quay you can drop them in to 24 Merchants Quay, Dublin 8.
Saoirse is a women’s refuge in Tallaght that also accepts donations of women’s and children’s clothing. If you would like to donate items please contact them in advance. You can find their contact information here.
The Dublin Simon Community have two charity shops in Dublin City Centre where you can donate clothes and goods. Their shops are located on Lower Camden Street, Dublin 2 and Thomas Street, Dublin 8. You can find more information on where to donate your items to the Dublin Simon Community here.
There are many other homeless charities around Ireland that take donations of clothing as well as other items such as toiletries, items for babies and toys. If you are uncertain if a charity takes donations contact them before dropping your goods off and ask them how they would like you to deliver them.
If you see someone sleeping rough contact a local homeless charity
If you see someone sleeping rough in Dublin you can help them by reporting them to Dublin County and City Council. At homelessdublin.ie you can fill in a report that will tell them the location of the person and details about them. The Council will then try to locate the person through the Housing First Intake Team and find them accommodation for the night.
Outside of Dublin there are several organisations you can contact to report someone sleeping rough:
- Kildare: The Peter McVerry Trust 1800 804 307
- Meath County Council 1890 445 335
- Louth County Council 1890 202 303
- Kilkenny: The Good Shepherd Centre 056 772 2566
- Cork: The Homeless Persons Until 021 4963 052, Simon Community Emergency Shelter 021 4278 728, St Vincent de Paul Call 0214317899.
- Limerick: Homeless Action Team 1800 606 060
- Galway: Cope 1800 788 887
Hold an event to raise money for homeless charities
If you would like to raise money for a homeless charity there are plenty of ways you can do so. Visit the website of the organisation you would like to raise money for to find out more about donating money to their cause.