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'Hidden homeless' a growing issue in Galway

Here’s how you can help homeless people in Galway, no matter where in the country you are.

SHOP ST IN Galway is usually thronged with shoppers during the day, and revellers at night.

But this evening, the top of the street will be the site of a fundraising event that aims to shine a light on those in Galway who are most vulnerable – including the ‘hidden homeless’ in the city.

Hidden homeless

COPE Galway accommodated 346 single people and families who were homeless in 2013. The same year, it provided services and supports for over 650 people who were at risk of, or affected by homelessness.

In October of this year, COPE Galway held a one-day census of the number of households accommodated in and supported by its homeless services and Domestic Violence Refuge.

This showed that ‘hidden homeless’ (people living with family and friends, or self-funding in tourist accommodation) was an issue, with 28 adults and 27 children living with family or friends.

The number of adults in emergency accommodation was 39, with eight children in this type of accommodation.

Sleeping out

A number of high profile Galwegians will sleep rough for a night as part of COPE Galway’s annual ‘Sleep Out’ event, with the aim of raising €50,000 for COPE’s local front-line homelessness services.

Each participant is being asked to raise €3,000 this year, but members of the public can help too, by texting SLEEP to 50300 and donating €4 this way.

There will be 26 people from local businesses and organisations sleeping out, including Brendan McGrath, Chief Executive of Galway City Council.

David Muldoon, fundraising manager for COPE Galway said:

If the CEO of Galway City Council is interested in the homelessness situation, I think that’s a great thing for Galway – it comes from the highest levels.

He added: “It’s a massive event for us. It looks like we’re going to reach our target, which would be incredible to raise.”

Difficulties finding a home

“More people are coming to us now because of the rent supplement cap,” said Muldoon. “It’s very, very difficult to find accommodation in Galway at the moment.”

He said that rent increases and difficulties with the rent supplement are contributing to individuals and families becoming homeless for the first time in Galway.

“There is a shortage of private rented accommodation, particularly that’s affordable within the rent cap, and there is a shortage of spaces in supported or transitional housing for people who need various levels of support,” he said.

COPE Galway provides services and supports in homelessness through Fairgreen Hostel, Osterley Lodge, Teach Corrib Day Centre, resettlement and tenancy support and Bridge House.

“Funds raised through the Sleep Out will go towards keeping these front-line services operating and giving people who are vulnerable and isolated the supports they need,” said Muldoon.

Read: “He could have been helped a bit more”: Jonathan Corrie’s devastated family on his tragic death>

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