Pictured are Nadine Kiernan, Support Worker, Katie Donohoe, Simon Community, Sam McGuinness, Dublin Simon Community and Karen Golden of Galway Simon Community.
The Simon Communities launched their Closing the Door on Homelessness campaign this week. The charity, which is marking 50 years since its foundation in Ireland in 1969, has launched the campaign to tell the stories of people it has supported to close the door on homelessness. In the campaign, Simon Community clients will be sharing their experiences of the safety and security of closing their own front door behind them. In 2018, the Simon Communities around the country ‘closed the door’ for more than 2,400 men, women and children across Ireland, helping them move out of homelessness and into a secure home.
The homelessness and housing crisis is being felt acutely in the West of Ireland with 534 people, including 199 children, in Emergency Accommodation in hotels, hostels and B&Bs at the end of June. While the figures nationally decreased in June, the number of people in Emergency Accommodation in the West increased. Galway Simon Community supports people to put homelessness behind them. Through the Closing Doors Campaign, Simon hopes to raise awareness of the experience of homelessness and how the charity is helping people find somewhere safe they can call home.
The Simon Community was founded in Ireland in February 1969, when a small number of volunteers made up of students from University College Dublin and Trinity College, packed up their flasks of soup and sandwiches and set out on the streets of Dublin to provide food and support to people experiencing homelessness. In 1979, a number of volunteers and students at NUI Galway similarly started a soup run in Galway, and Galway Simon Community was formed to support those experiencing homelessness in the West.
Karen Golden of Galway Simon Community said: “For 50 years the Simon Communities have supported those experiencing homelessness to find a place that they can call home. The end goal remains the same today as it was in 1969, ‘making home a reality’. We continue to protect those who are at their most vulnerable and help them change the course of their lives by providing the physical door to a home of their own. We are helping people to close the door on the mental strain of homelessness, on fear, insecurity, addiction or ill-health.”
Galway Simon marks its 40 year anniversary this year. You can read more about the doors Galway Simon Community has helped to close for those experiencing homelessness here.