On Tuesday November 13, Athlone mayor Jim Henson, along with a group of mature students from Athlone VTOS, are taking to the streets of Athlone to raise awareness and much-needed funds for the Midlands Simon Community.
The group will be sleeping rough from 6pm to 6am at Kilmartins N6, to highlight that homelessness is much more than a housing problem. Anyone living in unfit accommodation, using emergency services, or sleeping on the floor of a friend’s bedsit is experiencing homelessness. They are robbed of their dignity, privacy, safety, and a sense of belonging.
Midlands 103’s Will Faulkner will be joining the students and the mayor for the sleep out, and will be broadcasting live throughout.
There is no illusion that spending one night on the streets of Athlone could come anywhere close to truly replicating the harsh reality experienced by the homeless community. However there is hope that by creating awareness, the stigma of homelessness may be lifted.
As homelessness is not always evident on park benches or doorways, society seems to forget there are still people without homes, through no real fault of their own. There is a general misconception that alcohol and drug abuse are the main reasons behind homelessness; unfortunately there are many diverse factors ranging from socio-economic to mental health issues.
CEO of Midlands Simon, Tony O’Riordan, said “No one chooses to be homeless but by supporting projects like ‘Sleep Out For Simon’ people can choose to help end it. We would like to say a huge thank you to Athlone mayor Jim Henson, and the students and staff from VTOS for their support and enthusiasm with the project, and also to Kilmartin’s N6 Centra for their support in facilitating the ‘Sleep Out’. It is fantastic to see such willingness on the part of so many to want to make a difference, and it shows what can be achieved when we work together”.
The aim of the Midlands Simon Community is to enable people to move out of homelessness by providing a wide range of services and supports, like providing vital emergency accommodation, housing with support, and settlement services; addressing any difficulties people face with health, addiction or poverty; providing a voice and a network of volunteers who provide many supports, such as help with returning to education or employment, or someone to simply listen.
Midlands Simon Community is providing these essential ongoing supports and care to those affected by homelessness across the Midlands region. Since 2006 Midlands Simon has now supported over 900 people.
If you would like more information on how you can make a difference please contact Cormac Lally on (087 ) 9925083 or [email protected] or find on Facebook.
Donations may be pledged on www.mycharity.ie/event/vtos_communications_event/ direct to Simon, or by contacting VTOS on (090 ) 6474080.