Business Owners To Sleep On Galway Streets To Raise Funds For Homeless Services
Business leaders from across the West will leave behind their cosy offices tonight to sleep on the streets, as part of an annual fundraising initiative for COPE Galway.
The COPE Galway Sleep Out aims to raise money for homeless prevention services in Galway City, including four dedicated accommodation and support centres for those who find themselves homeless in the region.
The rising issue of homelessness in Ireland was recently highlighted by the tragic death of John Corrie on a Dublin street and new figures from COPE show that there are currently 94 homeless people in Galway, including 30 homeless families.
A one day census carried out by the charity found that there are 70 homeless children in the city, with 30 in emergency and domestic violence refuge accommodation and 40 'hidden homeless' who are living with family and friends (sofa surfing) or self-funding in tourist accommodation, with 24 of these "at imminent risk" of homelessness.
Business owners taking part in tonight's event, including Maximum Media's Niall McGarry, have each raised €3,000 for the charity and will sleep on Shop Street from 6pm to 6am, with members of the public also urged to make a contribution by visiting the temporary camp or by texting SLEEP to 50300 to make a €4 donation.
A spokesperson for COPE Galway said that several issues were pushing Irish families into homelessness, including the current caps on rent supplement.
"Maximum rent supplement cap limits need to be increased to reflect actual market rents – we are currently working with 44 households who are actively seeking private rented accommodation and the vast majority of these are dependent on rent supplement to meet their rent costs. Typically a three bedroom house will cost €850 or more per month to rent in Galway City, while the rent cap limit for a family who will qualify for such a sized property is €725 per month."
They added that rent control measures were also required to stem the flow of households becoming homeless, with rent increases being one of the main factors contributing to individuals and families becoming homeless for the first time in Galway City.
"The local authority should amend their scheme of lettings for social housing so as to prioritise households who are homeless. This is a measures that is included in the National Implementation Plan on addressing homelessness and COPE Galway consider that Galway City council should take a lead role in the region by amending their scheme of lettings."
To support tonight's COPE Galway Sleep Out, text SLEEP to 50300 to make a donation of €4. Further information on the event is available here, on Twitter @COPEGalway or #SleepOut2014.