Elderly woman sleeping in tent off Tallaght High Street
By Mary Dennehy
An elderly women sleeping in a tent, a young man living in bushes in Jobstown and up to 18 people being fed nightly in Tallaght Village by a community-led soup kitchen is the reality of the homeless crisis locally.
Nearly one year ago, VISIT (Voluntary Independent Service in Tallaght) has been providing meals, sleeping bags, warm clothes and support to Tallaght’s homeless – due to donations from individuals, community groups and businesses.
Established by residents, VISIT has this week told The Echo how over the past 12 months its volunteers have noticed a steady increase in the number of people availing of their food kitchen – with anything between 15 and 18 people turning up for a warm meal at the collection point each night.
SUPPORT: Volunteers Jonathan Fitzgerald, Edward McGrath and Vivieen Prendergast hand out food to Celine O’Neill, Shauna O’Neill, Kaitlyn O’Neill, Ryan O’Neill, Paddy O’Neill with Kathy
“There’s people sleeping in tents right across the area. One of the recent people we came across was an elderly lady who was sleeping in a tent behind Smyth’s toy store.
“We know of a young lad who was sleeping in bushes in Jobstown for five months, another lad is sleeping at the back of Fettercairn, two separate couples are sleeping in cars and two people are currently sleeping in a tent very close to a Tallaght TD’s office.
“Last Friday, a mother and her three children, who had been kicked out of their private-rented accommodation after the landlord decided to sell, contacted us because they had no place to go.
“They couldn’t get anywhere for the weekend, so they came and stayed with me. It is not the norm for volunteers to take people in, but it was either that or see this family sleep on the street.”
Nicola Moore, of VISIT, said: “There has been a definite increase in the number of homeless people on the streets of Tallaght, with demand for VISIT’s services growing all the time.
She added: “We are feeding between 15 and 18 people four nights a week and handing out sleeping bags, blankets, gloves, whatever we can – we also provide information and support in accessing services.
“We have come across a few people as well who have mental health issues, but because they have no address, they are not receiving the necessary services.”
VISIT has a very active Facebook page which is supported by members of the community and local businesses, who donate items and food.
“We receive no funding, everything we do is made possible by volunteers, fundraising and community donations,” Nicola said.
“The takeaways in-and-around the village are also brilliant, they donate food on different nights.
“It’s amazing what communities can do when they come together.
“Just imagine what our politicians and service providers could achieve if they committed themselves to helping the country’s homeless.”
For further information on VISIT follow its Facebook page or call 085 7885945.
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