Focus Ireland Shines a Light on Rural Homelessness

By Seamus Whelehan

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Rural homelessness is on the rise, according to a leading Cork based Charity.
Focus Ireland, whose mission is to challenge homelessness and change lives, has described homelessness in Cork County as “a hidden issue” as many do not appear as statistics.
The Charity says failure by successive Governments to address housing issues that are specific to rural areas, combined with a wider lack of funding for social house building, has “created the perfect storm”, which has resulted in a hidden housing crisis.
Dick White, Cork Area Fundraising and Marketing Executive for the Charity, told a recent meeting of the Midleton and Area Chamber of Commerce that homeless figures are greater than those recorded by Government, with several people living with friends and family couch surfing in already overcrowded houses.
He said the Charity is seeing a significant increase in homeless households in areas like East Cork, presenting to them.
The rate of homelessness in Cork City is increasing at an alarming rate with 408 men, women, and children presenting to the Charity on a nightly basis.
Nationally there are 10,035 homeless, of which 1,733 are families.
Mr White, who attended a recent breakfast meeting of the Midleton and Area Chamber of Commerce to promote the Focus Ireland Shine A Light campaign, said the Charity needs the public to donate now more than ever.
The Big Sleep Out for the homeless Charity takes place on Spike Island on Friday 18 October and they are looking to East Cork business leaders and their employees to take part in this year’s campaign.
The initiative, in its eighth year, encourages people to sleep outside and experience what it is like to be homeless.
It aims to show the struggles faced when sleeping rough, and help raise funds while sleeping under the stars.
Since 2012 €4million has been raised by the Shine a Light campaign.
Focus Ireland say while they can’t resolve the homeless issue on their own, the Government must urgently increase the proportion of housing spending used, to fund the construction of social homes with funding for rural areas ring-fenced in line with the proportion of the population living there.
This is the only way to stop people who find themselves homeless from being forced out of their homes, to areas far removed from their support network.

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