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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 21 January, 2020

Cork Penny Dinners are opening overnight for the first time since the 1800s

The charity now feeds about 2,000 people per week.

Image: Shutterstock/addkm

CORK PENNY DINNERS, a charity serving food to “anyone who is hungry” in Cork, has begun to remain open overnight for the first time since the 19th century. 

The charity was established as a soup kitchen in 1888, but likely goes back further to the times of the famine in the 1840s. 

Caitriona Twomey, head of the charity, said on Morning Ireland that the recent decision was made because “we lost so many people last year, because of the cold spells; even people in their homes. We decided that we would have to stay open”.

According to Department of Housing figures, 363 people were homeless in Cork in the second last week of November 2018. 

Last night, 11 people reportedly slept on the floor at Cork penny dinners.

“We have to do it, all organisations try to go above and beyond. We’re dealing with people, human beings, and we know that if they’re out there in the elements, some of them are going to die,” she said.

Basically it’s just to get people through the night, through the cold, and through the pain that they’re suffering, because the streets are very hard.”

Volunteers, and “everyone on the ground knows the story”, said Twomey, adding that the government has not listened to the possible solutions the group has offered. The problem is likely to grow, she claimed.

Our government is not doing the right thing by its people, by letting more and more people fall under that line.”

The charity is currently feeding about 2,000 people a week, according to Twomey. At the start of the recession, she added, they were feeding between 100 and 120 a week. ”
“The country is not in recovery,” she said.

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