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'How many people are going to die on the streets this winter?'

The Capuchin Day Centre’s Brother Kevin Crowley sees the reality of the homeless crisis every day and he thinks it’s getting worse.

BROTHER KEVIN CROWLEY, who runs the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless in Dublin, has said his biggest fear every year is the approaching winter as he worries about the numbers of people sleeping rough in freezing temperatures.

In a recent interview with TheJournal.ie, the Franciscan brother said he has seen a noticeable jump in the demand for the centre’s services since it started serving soup and sandwiches to about 50 people in the city each day in 1969.

It now feeds around 800 people a day between breakfast and lunch and distributes 1,700 food parcels each week.

“As far as I’m concerned, the whole thing has gotten far worse and for homeless people certainly it’s gotten worse in the sense that the numbers of homeless people who are still on the streets, lying on the streets at night time, not sufficient accommodation – that hasn’t got better, that has gotten worse,” he said.

Crowley said winter coming closer is “always my fear”.

How many people are going to die on the street? And people have died on the street.
We had a man coming in here who sleeps in a cemetery because he finds it’s the safest place for him and he sleeps there every night. He has fears of going into a hostel and then there are other times that when he tries to get into hostels, he can’t get accommodation – and that’s absolutely appalling.

Brother Crowley also spoke of a man two years ago who slept outside all night in freezing weather. When he arrived, his beard was frozen solid. “We had to thaw him out”, he recalled. The man later died of a suspected heroin overdose and was found in the street.

He said another huge concern for him is the level of drug addiction in the city among the homeless population.

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“That’s very, very serious and people are sort of looking down on them and seeing them as hopeless cases,” he said. “They are hopeless cases because there’s nowhere for them to go.”

“On numerous occasions we have had people in who have overdosed and luckily, thank God, we had a doctor and nurse on the premises – otherwise they’d have died.”

He said he would urge the government to work on providing sufficient accommodation for homeless people through the winter and put proper structures in place to help people overcome their addictions.

Pic: Andrew Bennett via Flickr/Creative Commons

Catch up with all the rest of our Homeless Ireland series here>

Read: ‘I’m the CEO of the Capuchin Day Centre and my salary is nil’>

More: Behind the scenes as the Capuchin Day Centre prepares to feed 500 people>

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