Simon Week to help tackle ‘invisible homelessness’

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A group who organise an annual fundraising week which helps struggling individuals and families in the North West is hoping to raise awareness of a new, growing problem.

THE BIG SLEEP:  Wendy Douglas (Customer Service Manager at Bank of Ireland), Mary McKeon (Development Officer at North West Simon Community) and Mena Doherty (Commercial Branch Manager at BOI). Mena has signed up for this year's Street Sleep on Friday, October 2 for the North West Simon Community.
THE BIG SLEEP: Wendy Douglas (Customer Service Manager at Bank of Ireland), Mary McKeon (Development Officer at North West Simon Community) and Mena Doherty (Commercial Branch Manager at BOI). Mena has signed up for this year’s Street Sleep on Friday, October 2 for the North West Simon Community.

The housing crisis has seen an increase in people seeking the help of the North West Simon Community who currently assist up to 30 families in Sligo.

Simon Week, which is being held from Monday, September 28 to Sunday, October 4, plays a big role every year for North West Simon which reaches out to people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or experiencing housing difficulties in Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.

The majority of those in the region who are struggling have found themselves relying on the kindness of friends and families who give them a place to sleep at night.

This issue has been described as “invisible homelessness” by Mary McKeon, Development Officer for North West Simon Community.

“While rough sleeping represents the severest form of homelessness, the majority of people who are homeless in Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal are not immediately identifiable as homeless. They are living in emergency or temporary accommodation, on social housing lists or waiting in vain for affordable private rental accommodation to become available,” she explained.

“They are the unofficial ‘hidden homeless’ – people with no fixed abode, who are ‘sofa-surfing’ or relying on the good will of friends to survive. They are those who remain in accommodation that is unsafe or unfit for purpose because they see no other option”.

A six week campaign begins this week and as part of it people are urged to sign a letter to government demanding action to address the growing homeless and housing crisis. Visit www.simonhomelessforecast.ie and scroll down to sign the letter.

The Annual Street Sleep also takes place on Friday, October 2 as part of Simon Week in Sligo and the charity are urging business people and individuals from all walks of life to sign up today.

The event, held by the Northwest Simon Community, aims to support people who are struggling in Sligo.

You must be over 18 years to take part in the street sleep which has seen a growing number of participants join the cause every year. Each participant will get a certificate and go home with the satisfaction that they have helped a local cause who are assisting and supporting people who are struggling.

Participants must be willing to collect sponsorship as the charity does not currently receive any government funding.

The Northwest Simon Community are also appealing to various cafés, restaurants and pubs in Sligo to take part in “Soup for Simon”, where, for one week, they will be donating €1 from every bowl of soup sold to the North West Simon Community. A number of businesses have already signed up including Osta Café & Wine Bar, Lyons Café, Grappa, O Brien’s Sandwich Bar, Shells Café and Ait Eile.

Anyone who wishes to take part in The Annual Street Sleep, Soup for Simon or become volunteers during Simon Week are also asked contact Mary on 087-7708865 or e mail the above address.

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