Focus Ireland launched an urgent Christmas appeal today with a hard-hitting campaign highlighting that babies are being born into homelessness. The charity also issued new figures which show that 12% of children in families currently supported by Focus Ireland’s Family services were born into homelessness.
Focus Ireland currently supports 1,215 children in 580 families in Dublin and 143 of these children were born into families who were homeless.
Focus Ireland Life President & Founder Sr. Stan launched the Christmas appeal as she said:
“There’s a record number of 10,397 people homeless and nearly 4,000 of them are children. I have never seen it this bad with many babies now being born into homelessness. Many of these families lost their homes while the mother was pregnant such as was the case for the woman featured in our appeal.”
“Being homeless causes terrible trauma to any family or individual but it is hurting children the most. We are seeing this through our own work supporting these families. Babies are living in tiny hotel rooms where they don’t even have enough room to learn how to crawl properly.”
Focus Ireland said that it is working hard to support these children and relies very heavily on public donations to ensure it can carry out the full extent of its work with over 15,500 people nationwide each year. However, due to funding only 9% of the children in families the charity supports in Dublin has access to a child support worker. These specially trained staff help children to cope with the difficult problems caused by homelessness.
While the charity does receive State funding it still has to raise over 40% of its annual budget through fundraising.
Sr. Stan said:
“Any donation will help us to directly support these children and help their families to get out of homelessness. It will also help prevent other families and individuals from becoming homeless in the first place. People can donate at www.focusireland.ie or ph: 1850 204 205.”
One young mother who told her story as part of the Christmas appeal outlined how she was homeless when her baby boy was born this year. The woman “Louise” explained:
“I had just found out I was pregnant when our landlord told us he was selling the house we were renting. Our world fell apart. We were desperate – searching day and night for somewhere new to stay. Constantly looking for a safe place to stay was hard enough. It was exhausting. But all the time at the front of my mind I just had this terrible fear. Constantly looking for a safe place to stay was hard enough. It was exhausting. But all the time at the front of my mind I just had this constant fear – I had no idea where we would be when my baby arrived.”
But there were no affordable houses or apartments available and Louise and her family became homeless. Louise, her partner and two children were all sleeping in one small and cold room in a B&B the night she had to go in to hospital to have her baby. She said: “My little Luke was born at 5.02AM. But the first call I made wasn’t to family. It was to Focus Ireland.”
Sr. Stan said:
“I am glad to say we were able to help Louise and her family as we at least got them into proper emergency accommodation. They were still homeless for a while but we worked with them and the great news is they now have a home where they will be spending Christmas.”
Focus Ireland stressed that every euro donated counts in the battle against homelessness as 89 cents of every euro received by the charity goes directly to services to support people who are homeless and those at risk.
Meanwhile, Focus Ireland confirmed it is set to launch the first ever Family Centre for families who are homeless in Dublin before the end of the year as part of its response to the deepening family homelessness crisis. The charity said it has not yet has received any State funding for this innovative service so it is relying on donations to carry out this work and to also keep its services going nationwide.
Sr. Stan added:
“We will soon open a special family centre in Dublin City Centre which will provide a place for families to feed their children, do washing and get help with homework. The centre will also have specially trained Focus Ireland support staff to work with families to help get them out of homelessness as quickly as possible. There will also be child support workers to work with children who are homeless.“
“She added: “We have had to set up this centre to help families while they are homeless but the real answer is of course that we urgently need more social housing and better prevention to end this crisis.”
Please donate at www.focusireland.ie or Ph: 1850 204 205
The Focus Ireland campaign features TV, radio and outdoor ads and runs over the coming weeks to Christmas. Focus Ireland launched the campaign in Dublin city centre with an admobile of its new poster which features a mother and her baby alongside the line: “Children are now being born into homelessness. The greatest gift you can give a child this Christmas is a home.”〈 Back to Press Releases