ORGANISERS of the Sleep Out Challenge, to be held in Kilrush on Friday September 26, have decided to hold just one sleep out in Clare. Originally it had been planned to host two sleep outs, one in Kilrush and one in Ennis. Organised by the Mid West Simon Community the event aims to raise funds and awareness of the increasing issues of homelessness.
The Kilrush Sleep Out will be held in the GAA grounds on the Killimer road.
“It is wonderful that the event will be held in Kilrush following on from the success of the town in the Tidy Towns competition and Mid West Simon are delighted that many of the people who had signed up for Ennis are going to enjoy a night in the West Clare town of Kilrush,” Mid West Simon Community Jackie Bonfield said.
TDs Timmy Dooley and Michael McNamara will be sleeping ou,t along with councillors Bill Chambers, Ian Lynch, Gabriel Keating, Alan O’Callaghan, Ann Norton and Mike McKee.
It is not clear if the politicians will be cordoned off into a separate tent or box that will fit them all.
Kicking off national Simon week 2014, STAND & DELIVER, in the Mid West Region, the line-up for the September will include an information session, followed by a couple of hours music with local band The Misfits.
The Sleep Out Challenge is asking participants to raise €250 each, by running cake sales, pyjama days, come dine with me, raffles and any other novel ideas people may have.
The goal is not to replicate the conditions of homelessness, but only to highlight this serious crisis that is reality for so many.
The money raised will help fund existing services and the Simon Community’s new pilot project “Moving on together”, a programme to support individuals and families facing eviction due to distressed mortgages to ensure they do not enter the homeless cycle. Other services provided by the Mid West Simon include advice and information clinics, tenancy sustainment, transitional housing, deposit guarantee scheme, breakfast run and food distribution.
“This issue of the hidden homeless is affecting more and more people. It is receiving a lot of media attention as the face of homeless is changing. It is now the person next door, work colleague, friends or family that could possibly be at risk of losing their home due to mortgage arrears and mounting debt,” Jackie Bonfield said.
“Unfortunately there is no debt forgiveness being shown to families that have fallen behind in their mortgage because of redundancy, pay cuts or increased living costs,” she added.
Participants will be fed during the night and will be woken at 5.30am by fitness fanatic Kevin Shalloo.
Participants will be invited to sign the national petition which will be sent to the government asking them to Stand & Deliver on the promise to end homelessness by 2016.
On the same day, a Mid West Simon Community Pop-Up charity shop will be opened in Francis Street, Kilrush. People are invited to come to the pop-up shop, sign the national petition and have a browse . Bucket collectors will be on the streets during the two days asking people to donate to this very needy and worthy cause.
Anybody wanting to be a part of this either as a volunteer to help or take part in the Sleep Out Challenge all information is available on www.midwestsimon.ie, or call 065/6820133 or 061608980.
By Peter O’Connell