Focus Ireland is working hard this year to make sure that Santa can find his way to children who are homeless in families supported by the leading charity. Some of the children are worried that Santa will not be able to find them as they have no chimney or fireplace in their homeless emergency accommodation.Focus Ireland is providing over 200 families with one of Santa’s Magical Fireplaces – which is a miniature fire place that grows when children sprinkle some magic dust over it on Christmas Eve. The idea being, all the Christmas stories are based around Santa coming down the fireplace, but not all homes have a fireplace, hence Santa’s Magical Fireplace.
There are a record number of nearly 10,000 people homeless and 3,725 of them are children living in hotels or homeless hubs. The Focus Ireland Family Team – in partnership with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive – works to support families while they are homeless and works to help them to secure a home. This work also includes specialist childcare support for the children in these families to help lessen the damage being homeless has on them.
Focus Ireland Family Services Manager Roisin McDonnell explains:
“We know that some children are worried and asking questions about how Santa will find them as they have no chimney in their homeless emergency accommodation. That’s when we came up with the idea to give the families a magical fireplace and to take that worry away from them. We are working hard to ensure that every family that we are supporting will have some positive memories this Christmas”.
Here is a short video of Roisin speaking about this https://youtu.be/b48VFpEqu10
“Each Package consists of a miniature replica fireplace, a fully illustrated story book telling of how lots of children round the world were worried as to how Santa was going to get into their home as they had no fireplace, so the elves created a solution, Santa’s Magical Fireplace. The package also includes a tiny bottle of Magic Dust for the children to sprinkle on their fireplace on Christmas Eve for the magic to come alive.”
“It is lovely to see how excited the children become when they get the fireplace. It is amazing how something so small can help to keep the magic and spirit of Christmas alive for families who are going through such difficult times. They are often stuck living in one little room with nowhere to even cook a meal or for the kids to play. It is so sad to think that some children born into homelessness this year will be spending their first ever Christmas in this world as homeless. That is wrong and needs to change. It should not happen.”
The Focus Ireland Family Homeless Action team are supporting 500 families at any given time. The goal is to help families to find a home as quickly as possible so that they can put homelessness behind them and get on with family life. We give practical and emotional support while helping them navigate their way out of homelessness. This work includes specialist childcare support which helps children and young people to understand and process what is happening for them in their worlds, to get them talking and to help them develop new routines in unfamiliar surroundings.
One family who are homeless and living in hotel emergency accommodation feature in Focus Ireland’s current Christmas appeal. The mother Fiona wrote in a letter about how the family are struggling but Focus Ireland’s help has made a big difference. She said:
“We have our case manager from Focus Ireland and I don’t think we could have coped with it all without her and Focus Ireland. They help us a lot.”
“Sometimes I lie awake at night and I can’t cope. I can’t believe we are still in this situation. But I know I can talk to our case manager at any time for a shoulder to cry on. My children love all the Focus Ireland staff. They almost feel like family now.”
Fiona also explained the impact that losing their home and having to move to the hotel has had on family life as she said:
“Monday to Friday we get up and my husband goes to work and I drop the kids to school. We have to get two buses. It is hard on the kids. They miss their friends. They miss their swing in the garden.”
Focus Ireland’s urgent Christmas appeal features TV, radio and outdoor ads which feature the shocking fact that: “Every 8 hours a family is made homeless. Together we can change this.”
Focus Ireland said that while the crisis is deepening the problem would be much worse again without the great work of its staff 365 days of the year. The charity supports over 14,500 people each year who are homeless or at risk and also provides over 1100 homes around the country.
Ms. McDonnell said:
“This is a vital time of year for us in terms of raising money and we would really encourage people who are able to donate to please support our work so we can continue to be there when people need us most.”
People can donate at www.focusireland.ie or by calling Ph: 1850 204 205〈 Back to Press Releases