Anyone in Ireland, be it Dublin or any other part, will know how atrocious the current housing situation is, and how much worse it’s been getting, not better.
Ireland now has the highest child homelessness rate in the whole of Europe. And not just that, there has been a 24% increase in homelessness here in the past year alone.
There are people dying on the streets in this country, despite there being the means to house them. And as the weeks, months and years pass by it seems to be becoming acceptable to those in charge of this country.
With the support of the GPA and WGPA “Gaelic Voices For Change” has been formed, and now there are over 400 current and former GAA athletes involved with the goal of making a difference in the country. The group believes that everyone has a role to play in making change and with that message these players hope to use their voices to mobilise change for the most in need.
As a starting point the group will focus on the current housing and homeless issues affecting so many people, children and adults, around the country in the hope of raising money and indeed a higher awareness to the crisis that has a stranglehold on Ireland today.
Among the players, of which there are now over 400 giving their time, are Dublin footballer Michael Darragh Macauley, former county footballer Eamon Fennell, Ladies footballer Sinead Finnegan and Dublin Senior Camogie player Laura Twomey.
On December 16th, from 6pm to 6am, Gaelic Voices For Change will hold ‘solidarity sleep-outs’ in 12 cities and towns: Dublin, New York, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Belfast, Sligo, Boston, Naas, Wexford, and Carlow, with Portlaoise on December 15th. The group, as already mentioned, have over 400 current and former inter-county players signed-up including Pat Gilroy’s entire Dublin hurling squad.
Gaelic Voices For Change are very much learning on the job, and struggling to keep up with momentum so the initiative is a bit of a prototype. Next year they hope to involve more club players and others and make the group even bigger.
The sleep-outs will include some guest speakers, music and song, and some food and hot tea and coffee for the homeless who want to join them on the streets. These events are designed to help the group and the public better understand homelessness, and to raise awareness and funds.
In addition, the group will be holding bucket collections and an online fundraising drive at gaelicvoicesforchange.com and all funds will go to the McVerry Trust, Focus Ireland, the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin, the Simon Communities and DePaul Ireland North and South, and also local charities like the Welcome Organisation in Belfast, Cope in Galway and Thomand House in Limerick.
Please show your support for this group and these events, keep an eye on twitter, Instagram and facebook, and get involved using the hashtag #SolidaritySleepout. In January the group will distribute the funds and review their progress and decide on what to do next.
To get more involved why not check out the group online at the links below.