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Dublin: 9 °C Sunday 17 February, 2019
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Dozens of homeless people will share pizza with the public on Grafton Street this evening

The get-together is planned for 8.30pm. “We want to break down the social barriers between the homeless and the rest of the public,” says organiser Cormac Noonan.

Ruairi Barrins, Cormac Noonan and Colm Gleeson.
Ruairi Barrins, Cormac Noonan and Colm Gleeson.

DOZENS OF HOMELESS people will share pizza with the public on Grafton Street this evening, in a bid to break down barriers between the society and some of its poorest members.

IT worker Cormac Noonan set up Pizza Sunday Club with his friend Martin Connolly, after becoming disenchanted with just dropping some change in the cup of homeless people they passed by each morning.

“I used to walk to work every day, and I used to walk by a homeless man and would give him change the odd day,” Noonan told TheJournal.ie.

“We started thinking there must be some other way we can help them.

One day we went around with pizzas, and on 23 December last, decided we’d skip the Twelve Pubs of Christmas and spend it on pizzas for the homeless instead.

“We went around and got chatting to the homeless people, and heard some of their stories. We did a few of those pizza runs, getting to know them.”

Last month the Dublin Region Homeless Executive released figures showing that the number of children in the capital who do not have a permanent home rose past 2,000 for the first time ever last month.

IMG_5915 Dominos donate pizza: Martin Connolly, Dominos staff member Happy, and Cormac Noonan in hat. Source: Pizza Sunday Club

Weekly gathering

Noonan’s team used to set up shop outside the Dunnes Stores on Grafton Street, but the chain has since installed black steel gates across their porch, which prevent homeless charities and their patrons from taking shelter there.

The weekly pizza gathering has moved a few doors down outside the Disney store, where street buskers join them.

Other initiatives, including Homeless Mobile Run, who give out soup and sandwiches and tea and coffee, usually take place alongside them.

13406711_248589088855155_8529077073687341739_n Pizza Sunday Club in action. Source: Pizza Sunday Club

Social barriers

“It’s just growing in numbers, in terms of homeless and other people turning up,” Noonan added.

The aim of Pizza Sunday Club was bringing the public down as well, to get help people get to know those who are homeless, instead of walking by them like they’re not there.

“So a few of our friends come down, and we have some music, to make for a social atmosphere.

“We want to break down the social barriers between the homeless and the rest of the public.”

Sponsored

In April they set up on Grafton Street with the help of family and friends. Dominos Rathmines and Apache Pizza in Temple Bar have since provided 15 pizzas each every week and word began to spread.

Other companies such as Deliveroo and Woodies have sponsored them with the necessary equipment.

12c5ad683ad02c5e11e381b09f2f9b5b Source: Pizza Sunday Club

Boredom

Noonan has found that the homeless people who do attend are more interested in the chat than the pizza, due to the stultifying boredom that comes with living on the streets.

“I’d say we’d usually have about 40 homeless people, and about 12-15 other people helping out playing music, having the chat.

Some of them say it’s not about the pizza, it’s about the chat, they’d be so bored.

“People say they just need to get off drugs and get a job, but systems are not in place to help them out of homelessness, there’s no real help.

“One of our friends who comes along, Anthony Brophy, was renting a house but his landlord, about three years ago, was subletting it.

“He got screwed over when the actual landlord came along. He became homeless – and he’s been clean from drink and drugs for quite a while.”

Read: Nearly 100 families became homeless in Dublin in July

Read: ‘It’s exploitation’: Homeless charities condemn ‘two-tier’ tenants laws

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