DEPUTY WILLIE O’Dea and councillor Maurice Quinlivan aren’t exactly political bedfellows, but they’ll soon be a having political threesome of sorts - with the Fine Gael mayor of the city - as all three men 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.
People across Limerick and beyond are encouraged to sleep out in the Gaelic Grounds on 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.
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, while the political trio in Limerick city is to include Mayor Michael Sheahan.
Over 80 people have now signed up for sleep-outs in the four venues, but over 200 are expected to sign up in total.
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 nd 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 www.midwestsimon.ie