Focus Ireland launches hard-hitting video to highlight homelessness crisis for young people

— Bord Gáis Energy Make Campaign Possible Through Its Partnership With Focus Ireland —

Focus Ireland has today launched a hard-hitting short film to highlight the terrible crisis of young people becoming homeless when leaving State Care at 18. The piece is called “I can’t Sleep” and features an actress playing the part a young person leaving care.

The emotive twist in the piece is that it shows two versions of how her character Lucy’s life pans out – One where she is safe as she has getting aftercare support and housing from Focus Ireland and the other version of her life where is homeless and in danger on the streets as she has no support. Focus Ireland said the film captures the reality that young people can be protected when aftercare support and housing is in place. However, if there is no aftercare support young people often become homeless and their lives can spin out of control – sadly sometimes ending in tragedy.

The piece features the U2 song “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” and the band kindly gave permission for Focus Ireland to use the song. The short film is being rolled out across TV and social media from in a campaign made possible by support from Bord Gáis Energy (BGE) as part of its partnership with Focus Ireland.

The video ends with an appeal for people to text HOME to 50300 to donate €4. For every €1 raised Bord Gais Energy will kindly match it. (To a max of €60,000 ) You can watch “I Can’t Sleep” here.

Dave Kirwan, Managing Director of Bord Gáis Energy said, “This is a film that will affect everyone who sees it, it is heart-breaking and moving and importantly calls on all of us to consider what is happening in our country at this time. It is important that as many people as possible see it, and understand how at risk so many of our young people are. It is especially harrowing when you see how many children are affected. Of the more than 8,000 people who are homeless in Ireland today nearly 3,000 of them are children.” He added: “Bord Gáis Energy is proud to be a partner with Focus Ireland, and we were keen to help in a small way to bring this video to a national audience. We’re encouraging everyone to donate what they can to support Focus Ireland in their incredibly important work.”

Meanwhile, Focus Ireland Life President & Founder Sr. Stan said: “There are now over 800 young people homeless….and it’s getting worse. Too many of these come from the Irish care system. It is fundamentally wrong that so many vulnerable young people become homeless when they have been in care of the State. It’s even more shocking when you learn this can be prevented. We do a lot of this positive work in partnership with the State and it protects many people but many others are still at risk. There needs to be more done to improve the situation and protect all vulnerable young people.”

Sr. Stan added: “The support we get from Bord Gáis Energy is amazing and it really helps to support our work challenging homelessness and changing lives. The company and its great staff are so committed to helping our work preventing homelessness and this support is so important to us in our work.”
Focus Ireland said that an aftercare worker with the time and resources to help can protect young people leaving care. Every young person at risk needs a dedicated aftercare worker. However, many services are stretched to breaking point as staff often have caseloads of over 30 young people. The charity said its experience suggests each worker should have a caseload of no more than 15 to 20 young people.
Meanwhile, Wexford Writer/Director, Laura Way of Bodecii Film said: “I wanted to develop an idea to highlight the crisis for young people who are homeless. The film is supposed to be impactful and hard hitting because that is the reality of the crisis, and in many cases, it’s much worse. Film has the power to get people talking about these issues and show that solutions are out there and measures can be taken to protect all young people leaving state care.” She added: “U2’s “emotive lyrics and music were the perfect fit for the imagery of I Can’t Sleep.”

Media Contact: Roughan Mac Namara: Focus Ireland: 086 85 15 117

Editor’s notes:
Focus Ireland is the leading provider of aftercare accommodation and support services in Ireland. The charity works directly to support young people in the most vulnerable situations when they have fallen out of the care system before 18 and also with many others after they leave care at 18. Our aftercare services in Dublin, Limerick and Waterford provide accommodation and support for young people leaving care and also support many others in the community through outreach aftercare services. However, we are unable to secure accommodation for many young people supported by our aftercare outreach services due to the critical lack of affordable accommodation for young people on low incomes or welfare.

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