Communities across Galway are ready to swap their beds for sleeping bags tomorrow, as the Galway Simon Community ‘Sleep Out for Simon’ event returns to the Galway streets for the first time since the Pandemic.
Sleep Out for Simon is an annual event that sees individuals and groups across Galway, Mayo, Roscommon and beyond, camp out for the night to raise awareness and vital funds for those facing homelessness in the West.
This year, participants can choose to join one of Galway Simon’s organised Sleep Outs or organise their own Sleep Out, in a safe place of their choosing.
Community Sleep Outs will be taking place at various locations across Galway city and county, including on Shop Street, Salthill, Oranmore/Maree, Loughrea and Tuam.
Fintan Maher is the Head of Fundraising and Communications with the Galway Simon Community. Speaking to Galway Pulse, Mr Maher explained that the funds raised at tomorrows Sleep Out are even more vital than before.
Galway Simon Community’s Essential Funding
This year, the Galway Simon Community has set themselves a target of raising €100,000 from the Sleep Out, with 100% of the proceeds going to their homelessness prevention services.
“The main focus of our work is prevention,” said Mr Maher. “It could be that someone needs money for a deposit to secure accommodation, or they need money for food because they need to pay rent and heating.”
However, despite the Galway Simon Community’s best efforts, there are more people at risk of homelessness than ever before.
“Even with all our efforts, we have had more people in emergency accommodation than ever in Ireland. It’s just a reflection of what’s happening with the whole housing crisis.”
The impact of the cost of living and housing crisis
The oncoming winter is a real concern for the Galway Simon Community, with the cost of living and housing crisis creating the perfect storm.
“Unfortunately, we had higher numbers [of homeless people] than ever before in the summer, and we’re really concerned about the coming winter.”
Mr Maher explained, the combination of the housing and cost of living crisis is causing “what we call, the changing face of homelessness.”
Not only is the overall number of homeless people increasing, but the number of families and young people facing homelessness is on the rise.
“In July, there were 88 families in emergency accommodation across Galway and Roscommon. Within those 88 families were 206 children. The trauma that can have on the family and children, can last a long time.”
How to get involved
Despite the current challenges facing their services, the Galway Simon Community are positive about the outcome of the Sleep Out.
“Most people, certainly in Ireland, are very generous,” said Mr. Maher. “When they see something, they want to do something about it. We all know there is a housing and homelessness crisis. Thankfully the public respond when we put the call out.”
To register for Sleep Out for Simon today, visit sleepoutforsimon.ie