Fundraising appeal for Ireland's 8,400 homeless people
Ireland's homeless crisis continues to deepen, with almost 8,400 people now without a home, a charity has warned.
Focus Ireland highlighted that of the 8,374 homeless in the country, more than 3,000 are children.
Launching a Christmas fundraising appeal, the charity revealed that it had supported 600 more people so far in 2017 than it did in 2016 - 12,318 between January and September, compared with 11,744 in the same period last year.
The charity's life president and well-known social activist Sister Stanislaus Kennedy (Sr. Stan) said: "It breaks my heart to know that some of these children have been born into homelessness.
"Some of them will spend their first Christmas stuck with their family forced to live in one little room together.
"This is awful and it makes me think back to what Christmas is about - how nobody would take in the baby Jesus and his family.
"I am sure this will strike a chord with everyone no matter what their beliefs are as these children today have also been turned away and left as homeless. They are our children too and we have a duty as a society to provide a safe home for them."
One previously homeless family which was housed with the support of Focus Ireland took part in Sunday's appeal launch event in Dublin.
Sean Wade, Sarah Moran and their children - Zoe, four, Summer, three, and one-year-old Sean - were homeless for more than two years when they lost their home in the private rented market.
"It was awful when we were homeless and stuck living in hotels with nowhere to even cook," said Mr Wade.
"A lot of the places are really unsuitable for children as they have public bars and nowhere safe for children to even play. The Government should be doing a lot more on this terrible crisis."
The Government announced an extra 18 million euro for homeless services in last month's budget and said 3,800 new social homes would be built in 2018.
Mr Wade added: "I don't know where we'd be without Focus Ireland as the support they gave us was amazing and helped to keep us going when we were homeless.
"We don't know ourselves now we have a home. We don't feel institutionalised anymore and are free of the stigma that is placed on people when homeless.
"We are free now and I would encourage anyone in difficulties to contact Focus Ireland."
Sr Stan added: "We work hard to support families and individuals every day and not just at Christmas but we depend on donations now more than ever to raise funds so our services can cope with the constantly rising demand."
For more information go to www.focusireland.ie or call 1850204205.