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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 30 May, 2020

'We are seeing people who have a home, but they can’t afford the heating or the food to cook'

Merchants Quay Ireland has issued an urgent appeal for funding for its Sunday dinner service.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/addkm

A NATIONAL HOMELESS and addiction charity has launched an urgent appeal to raise funds for its Sunday dinner service. 

Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) provides homeless outreach and drug rehabilitation services at every level of addiction.

Its day centre on Merchants Quay in Dublin’s south inner city provides food, medical and counselling support for at-risk and homeless people.

Every Sunday, up to 300 people come to MQI for dinner. This is the only place in Dublin for people who are homeless to get a free hot meal on a Sunday. 

The service, which costs over €200,000 a year to run, also provides an opportunity for MQI staff to engage with individuals and support them with crisis help and referrals. 

People who attend the Sunday service can avail of a hot shower, dry clothes, and social connection and companionship. 

However, the charity has now claimed that the service receives insufficient State funding and that the demand for the service keeps growing. 

It has also raised concerns that staff are now seeing people who have accommodation but cannot afford to cook in their own homes. 

“Merchants Quay Ireland has been providing hot meals to Dublin’s homeless for decades. Meeting these basic needs is at the core of what we do. But the demand for our Sunday services is now unprecedented,” MQI CEO Paula Byrne said, launching the appeal.

We are now seeing people who have a home, but they can’t afford the heating or the food to cook.

download The MQI day centre as seen from across the River Liffey. Source: Hayley Halpin via

Homeless emergency accommodation figures for January show that there are now a combined total of 9,987 people homeless and living in emergency accommodation in Ireland, a significant rise of 234 people from December.

The numbers taken over the course of one week in January show that there were 6,363 adults and 3,624 homeless children living in emergency accommodation in the state. 

Maura, a Sunday service client said that her accommodation has “no gas or electricity”. 

“I come here on Sundays for a hot meal and to have a shower with hot water. I can fill my flask with hot water as well to take home with me,” she said. 

Mark, another Sunday service client, added: “The days are so long when you’re homeless, you need to get out of the cold. It’s a real Sunday atmosphere here, a proper Sunday dinner. This place is a lifeline for a lot of us.” 

MQI also runs a Night Café, which provides yoga mats for up to 65 people to sleep on each night who have not been able to source a place to stay. In 2017, MQI’s Night Café provided emergency shelter for 1,913 individuals. 

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Donations to Merchants Quay Ireland can be made here.

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