MUNSTER rugby players have lent their support, the Mayor has signed up, and the Simon Community is calling on the masses to sleep out to support their services.
Munster Rugby player Duncan Casey is also hoping to sleep out in Limerick - rugby matches permitting.
Fianna Fail deputy Willie O’Dea, Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan and the Mayor of Limerick, Michael Sheahan, have joined forces to sleep out to support the Simon Community.
The organisation, which supports the homeless, is aiming to raise €100,000 this year for its services, through a ‘sleep out’ challenge in the city and in other centres throughout the Mid-West.
People across Limerick and beyond are encouraged to sleep out in the Gaelic Grounds on Friday October 3, and individually raise at least €250 to help fund the services of the Mid-West Simon Community.
“Our goal is not to replicate the conditions of homelessness, but only to highlight this serious crisis that is reality for so many, “ said Jackie Bonfield, manager of the Mid-West Simon Community.
“Some people are finding it difficult to raise the money, but some people are coming up with inventive ideas, such as offering a prize and holding a raffle to encourage people to give,” she explained.
From 8pm to 6am, there will be entertainment to keep spirits high as temperatures dip, while there will also be designated quiet sleep zones in the grounds.
In Clare, hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald has lined out, along with Deputy Timmy Dooley.
Some 35 people have signed up in Limerick to date, including a team from Northern Trust, and over 100 people have now signed up for sleep-outs in the four venues. It is hoped that over 200 will sign up across all centres.
The challenge is to raise awareness of the ‘hidden homeless’ living amongst us - many of whom have not come forward to seek help.
“They do not live on the street, but instead live by moving from friend to friend, relative to relative, never calling a place home, “ she said.
Similar events are also being held in Ennis, Kilrush and Thurles.
Ms Bonfield said the increase in demand for their services has resulted in what could be considered a “perfect storm” - the housing crisis, high unemployment rates, low rent allowance limits and evictions.The organisation has recorded a 25% increase in demand for their services, and say the number continues to grow. The most recent available statistics from homeless services in the Mid-West shows that 2,219 people presented to homeless services in the Mid-West in 2012. To sign up call 061 608980 or log on to midwestsimon.ie