MEMBERS of the public are being challenged to spend a night in a cardboard box or sleeping bag to help those who have no choice other than sleeping rough.
The Mid West Simon Community who report “an unprecedented increased demand” on their resources, have launched the Moving on Together Sleep Out Challenge aimed at raising €100,000.
The event will be held in four venues in the Mid-West including the Gaelic Grounds, Ennis Road, Limerick, on Friday October 3. You can sleep in a tent, a floor or in a cardboard box.
“The fundraiser does not in ay way attempt to replicate the true sense of homelessness but will go towards building awareness of the issues facing those homeless,” explained Jackie Bonefield, of the Simon Community.
Volunteers will sign up to sleep from 8pm, but it won’t be as bad as those forced to sleep on the streets. There will be entertainment, food and refreshments, chat zones and you can head to your own comfortable bed at 6am.
Along with the Limerick event, run in partnership with the Limerick Leader, there will be similar sleep outs in Ennis, Kilrush and Thurles.
“Ireland’s new homeless now have a different face and they are at the heart of our communities...they live along side us, work in our offices and yet, may go on silently carrying this pressure alone,” said Irene Hamilton, managing director of the Limerick Leader, at the launch of the event in the Savoy Hotel this week.
She said as a local paper, proudly celebrating 125 years in the community, this project was something the Leader wanted to highlight and support.
“Our focus is that we remain at the heart of the communities we serve. We hear stories every day of people losing their homes, and we will do anything we can do to help highlight and improve this situation.”
Ms Hamilton said that by working together as organisations and supporting each other that we show true community spirit.
Ms Bonefield said the money raised from the event would be directed towards the hidden homeless.
“They do not live on the street, but instead live by moving from friend to friend, relative to relative, never calling a place home but always saying thank you. This image many not fit the sterotype that we have in our minds but every community has a homeless person even if they are not on the street, they could be closer than you think,” she explained.
The money raised will help fund existing services and the pilot project “Moving on Together”, a programme to support individual and families facing eviction due to distressed mortgages to ensure they do not enter the homeless cycle.
You must register in advance and commit to raise a minimum of €250. All have to be over 18 years of age.
It is hoped that companies, charities and community groups will get involved. See Facebook or www.midwestsimon.ie or ring 061 608980.