Gearing up for the Novas sleep out are Niamh Webb-O’Rourke, Limerick Leader, the charity’s policy director Dr Una Burns and All-Ireland winning hurler William O’Donoghue Picture: Michael Cowhey
UP to 70 people will this Friday night refrain from Christmas revelry and instead take part in a hugely worthy cause for Novas.
They will bed down for the night outside Brown Thomas in a bid to highlight the homelessness crisis that blights Ireland, and is most prevalent at this time of year when temperatures plunge.
Limerick’s All-Ireland winning hurlers William O’Donoghue and Seamus Hickey, alongside Limerick Leader advertising executive, and influential blogger Niamh Webb-O’Rourke are three well-known faces taking part in what is Novas’s main charity initiative of the year.
Na Piarsaigh captain William is well on his way to raising €6,000 for Novas through his online ‘Everyday Hero’ page, and said once he heard about the sleep-out, there was “no way” he’d miss it.
“It’s one night over Christmas where you can sacrifice a few hours. It’s nothing hectic, but people’s appreciation for your willingness to do this is pretty encouraging. People have been so willing to support the cause, it’s nice.”
Tackling the homelessness crisis is something the midfielder is passionate about, having taken part in a similar sleep-out last year.
Since his page went live, he has been inundated with big financial donations, which he says is “flattering” – but he admits he would rather see more people make smaller financial gifts..“It would be much nicer to raise less money and more people donate. I think the essence of it is, that the more people who donate, it shows more people care and are willing to log on and support an initiative and leave a kind note. That’s more valuable than the financial goal of the page,” he told the Limerick Leader.
But the haul of money William has pulled in is crucial for Novas, says its policy director Una Burns.
“For example, our street outreach is entirely run on donations. It’s entirely run by our volunteer team. We’re fortunate most of our food is donated through business in the city, so it costs us €12,500 to run for a year. So [with €6,000 from Will] we have six months already. That’s how practical it is,” she explained.
Niamh, who has 60,000 followers between both social networks Instagram and Facebook, adds: “I have a platform, so it’s good to use it for something. From previous campaigns, I have dropped bags of clothes down. But these will only go so far. I felt this would be a good next step.”
Both William and Niamh admit there might not be much sleep done on the night, they believe there will be a sense of fun to the occasion.
Last year, the Caherdavin man was the only Limerick GAA star to take part in the ‘Gaelic Voices for Change’ sleep-out here.
With this profile, he says he was able to secure more donations, because he would know a lot of locals.
“I think the platform is so important. A lot of people who donated to my page in Na Piarsaigh alone now know the amount of people who are aware of Novas.”
Dr Burns is grateful for their support, adding: “It allows us to raise the profile in a way we couldn’t do without them.”
To this end, William appeared on Virgin Media One’s the Six O’Clock show last week, where he promoted the Sleep-Out.
Asked if a career in television may beckon once he hangs up his boots, he laughed: “No definitely not! Shane Dowling will be in there by then. Ye’d never get Dowling out the chair!”
The sleep-out starts 7pm Friday.