On Friday 18th October I completed a sleep out for ‘Shine a Light Night’ in aid of Focus Ireland.
As you can imagine I got very little sleep, there was no rain but it was very damp. It was cold and you could feel it getting into your bones and joints. Sleeping just on a piece of thin cardboard and a plastic sheet to protect you from the damp grass. It could have been a lot wetter and a hell of a lot colder so I count my self very lucky. The city is not a quiet place at night, like a house. The noises of ambulances, fire engines and Garda cars going by all night was like an night episode of a crime drama. It’s not dark either… street lights don’t go off when you want to go asleep. But it was different in many other ways to sleeping rough in the city like many do every night - we had security looking out for us throughout the night, we had toilets and running water and we had hot drinks and water if we needed it. There were many old friends and many new ones, the environment was friendly. The big one for me was we could go home the next day to a warm shower and a bed to catch up on sleep. All of these things are what we take for granted every day. So really our experience, while tough for many, is just a small sample of what it is really like.
It was a very humbling experience hearing from the people who have benefited from the work that Focus Ireland do every day. It was nice to learn about where the money raised was going to help those that need it most. I learnt many things and would like to share a few...
Homelessness is not just about sleeping rough. Sleeping rough is about not having any shelter and also having no home. Homelessness also takes into account all those who are living in sheltered accommodation, hostels, hotels and B&B’s. They too have no home and nowhere to feel safe. There is a radio and TV campaign that is currently running with the help of Bord Gais which is trying to raise the awareness of this issue.
The current government and local council solutions of paying for people to stay in hotels, B&B’s and hostels are not working. This problem can’t go away until more accommodation is built and built fast.
What probably affected me most is that the situation is getting worse and the numbers and statistics are masking that it is happening to real individuals, families with kids and parents each week.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank my colleagues, suppliers and customers from work, my friends and family for all the donations and kind messages. We collectively have raised nearly €9,000. I am still hoping there will be a few more donations that can get it to €10,000 which would be great. You can help here: https://shine-a-light-2019.everydayhero.com/ie/colm-brady
The campaign collectively has raised €810,000 so far. Last year they nearly got to €1 million and I hope they can beat it this year.
I am delighted to have been able to do this but it was made so much more worthwhile with your support.