A Galway charity is experiencing a "shocking" increase in homeless people looking for help.
Galway Simon Community reports a 90 per cent leap in people needing its help and is currently trying to help some 200 Galwegians who are facing homelessness.
In the first half of this year 407 households, including single people and families, needed its services - a whopping jump on the same period last year.
Galway Simon, in raising awareness of this growing issue, has launched its new campaign ‘Sleep Out for Simon’ which will see people in Galway and Mayo sleep rough on Friday October 7. The campaign is for people to experience for one night what many people in Ireland face every day.
The sponsored sleep out will take place in five locations, Galway city centre, Athenry, Corinthian Park, and two in Mayo. The largest group will swap their beds for sleeping bags on Shop Street in Galway city from 8pm to 8am.
It has become the flagship event to raise awareness of homelessness in Ireland, while also raising sponsorship which will go directly towards preventing and addressing the current crisis in Galway.
One Galwegian, who experienced living on the streets, says one night is too long.
“You could be homeless for a day, a week or the biggest part of your life, but it doesn’t make a difference, one night is too long,” says Galway man Michael Mackey.
Speaking about his experience of rough sleeping, he said it was something he never dreamt of doing.
"I got myself into a horrible situation, not knowing where you’re going to sleep, not knowing if you’re going to wake up. I still think about it and I think about those who are in that situation at the minute, how are they going to survive today?”
Simon's work focuses on preventing people from becoming homeless, as well as supporting those without a home. It has held successful sleep outs in the past and it plans to turn ‘Sleep out for Simon’ into an annual event to continue raising awareness of the issue.
Simon is urging local people and businesses to show solidarity with those experiencing homelessness by signing up to sleep out in their local area.
Anyone interested in getting involved can contact Amy Lavelle, community partnerships fundraiser at Galway Simon, phone 091381828 or email [email protected].