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Temple Street Children's University Hospital has claimed that a shocking 842 children who were attending its Emergency Department in 2018 were living in emergency accomodation, or didn't have a fixed address.

This means that there has been a 29 percent increase in the amount of patients who are being discharged into homelessness in Dublin, and one-quarter of the children were under one year old.

In 2017, the number of children discharged from ED who had no fixed address was 651.

The majority children last year presented with medical ailments such as chest infections, seizures, asthma, high temperatures and vomiting.

On the other side, 23 percent of children presented with trauma such as head lacerations, burns, self-harm and hand and arm injuries.

In the final three months of 2018 alone, 260 children attended Temple Street's Emergency Department without a fixed address.

Head Medical Social Worker at Temple Street, Anne-Marie Jones commented on the situation, condemning it as "shameful";

She said: "When these children leave our ED, they stay in temporary accommodation with cramped conditions and no appropriate cooking, washing or play facilities."

She added; "This results in accidents or traumas that wouldn’t normally happen if these families were housed in a family home.” 

Dr Ike Okafor, Emergency Medicine Consultant , meanwhile, argued that children's recovery is massively affected by their living situation.

Dr Okafor claims that; "There are children where you do what you can do in hospital, and then you hope they'll go home and recover."

"But these accommodations aren't conducive for recovery for some of the conditions – so they're not the ideal," he said.

He described cases of children undergoing surgery and then having nowhere to go from there, as well as incidents involving children being assaulted trying to find accommodation.

The most recent official homeless figures from November show there were 3,811 children in emergency accommodation that month.

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The number of homeless children at risk has soared according to reports at State chhild-protection watchdog Tulsa. 

This is due to concerns for their welfare and safety.

This comes in the aftermath of a family of five having to sleep in a Garda station for the night when there was no emergency shelter available to them. 

According to The Irish Times, the issue with homeless families having to sleep rough in cars has worsened in recent times.

In correspondence on April 30th from Focus chief executive Pat Dennigan to Minster Zappone, he said that the situation “has deteriorated over the last few weeks”. 

In April, 32 families were left with no choice but to approach Garda stations, as no emergency accommodation beds were available.

“Of these, 12 families (20 children) reported to us the following day they had slept rough, mostly in cars,” Mr Dennigan told Ms Zappone.

Mr Dennigan has explained that he may publish the actual numbers of families that had to report to Garda stations at night each month on their website.

“Our board has repeatedly expressed grave concern for the families in this position and also that our services are being caught in an unacceptable position by the failure of the wider system,” he said.

This is a crisis that looks like it isn't going to be solved any time soon.

Figures emerging from the Department of Housing show a recorded 9,872 people as homeless in June 2018, 3,824 of whom were children.

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The country has been hit by one of the worst snow storms in decades, with freezing temperatures and icy conditions forcing many of us to stay indoors. 

And while the extreme weather has no doubt causes its fair share of inconveniences, it can be incredibly dangerous for those who don't have a place to sleep. 

If you come across someone sleeping rough during the extreme cold snap, the first thing you should do is contact your local homeless service and let them know you are concerned about the wellbeing of the individual or individuals in question. 

If possible, offer them a warm drink and some food and encourage them to avail of one of the extra beds that have been made available across the country. 

Here's a list of organisations taking calls around the country:

Dublin: The Inner City Helping Homeless // 01 8881804 or 085 8389281.

or report to the Dublin Region Homeless Executive online here

Kildare: Peter McVerry Trust // 1800 804 307.

Meath: County Council // 1890 445 335.

Killkenny: Good Shepard Centre // 056 772 2566  or Council Emergency // 056 779 4145

Cork: Homeless Persons Unit // 021 4963 052

Simon Emergency Shelter // 021 4278 728

St Vincent de Paul // 021 4317 899

Limerick: Homeless Action Team // 1800 606060

Galway: Cope Homeless Service // 1800 788887

Eileen Gleeson, director of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive has urged people to contact homeless services if they witness someone sleeping rough in the extreme weather.

"It's vitally important that anyone who sees a person who's homeless that they link them onto the rough sleeper report, so that we can get to them."

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The Simon Community, a housing and homeless charity, saw a 33 percent rise in the number of people using its services. 

The charity helps those who are homeless in Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, and Meath. 

According to their Annual Report for 2016, this increase includes more than 11,000 people total, who were either homeless or at risk of losing the roof over their heads.

Simon helped 1,400 families and nearly 3,000 children last year as well.

The number of families facing homelessness has soared by over 50 percent and the number of homeless children by 49 percent. 

Many of these families must live in hotel rooms, with limited space for children to play and no proper kitchen to cook in. 

"These trends are flesh and blood, people’s lives and childhoods potentially lost," Padraig McKeon, Chairperson of Simon Community, said in a statement. 

He also noted that the charity plans on building 400 more accommodation units in the four counties they serve, which will be both supported housing and independent living units.

Padraig thanked all of the charity's clients and residents whose 'continued determination and perseverance to move forward with their lives' are utterly inspiring.

"Every day we are inspired by what you have overcome," the Chairperson wrote, "Your experience and insights ensure our services continue to adapt and improve."

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Some 400 inter-county GAA players slept rough across the country last night in an effort to raise much needed funds for homeless charities.

Organised by the volunteer group Gaelic Voice for Change, the 12-hour sleep-outs took place from 6pm – 6am in various towns and cities including Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Naas and Sligo.

Players in New York and Boston also took part.

So far, the group has raised over €176,800 for charities in the north and south  including the Peter McVerry Trust, DePaul, the Simon Communities, Focus Ireland and the Capuchin Day Centre, Cope Galway, Thomand House and Novas in Limerick, and the Welcome Organisation in Belfast.

Dublin footballer Eamon Fennell said is about much more than putting a roof over someone's head.

"I think we understand that there's a crisis at the moment, and we just felt we had to do something,

"We knew that homelessness was about getting a roof over someone's head, but it's also about tacking mental health, physical health, kids' self-esteem that are living in hotels and hostels.

"There's an education piece that people don't understand that we're trying to bring to them now."

You can donate to Gaelic Voices for Change here.

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The body of a woman, who is understood to be a rough sleeper, was discovered in Cork city centre at approximately 11am today.

According to a report in The Irish Times, the woman, who is believed to be in her 40s, was found on Lower Oliver Plunkett Street in the city.

She had been availing of homeless services in Cork for a number of years, and her body was found in the vicinity of a shelter run by Cork Simon Community.

Gardaí are not said to be treating the death as suspicious, and the woman's body has been removed to Cork University Hospital where a post mortem examination will be conducted later today.

The woman's death brings to to three the number of rough sleepers who have died on our country's streets since last week.

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A man, who was found unresponsive on the streets of the nation's capital on Monday evening, has died in hospital.

The individual, who is known to the city's homeless services, was discovered in the vicinity of the Four Courts at 8pm, and subsequently rushed to hospital.

The deceased, who is understood to have been a Lithuanian national, did not recover, and passed away in the Mater hospital.

Commenting on his death and the death of another rough sleeper in Ranelagh this week, Homelessness charity the Peter McVerry Trust expressed remorse over the city's homelessness crisis.

"Unfortunately, there have been an unprecedented number of deaths involving people sleeping rough since late August."

"The latest two deaths in Dublin bring to seven the number of people sleeping rough that have died in the past 12 weeks."

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A man, who had been sleeping rough in Dublin's city centre, died in the early hours of this morning.

Homeless charity workers raised the alarm after realising the individual had not moved position over the course of three hours.

A Garda spokesman confirmed the incident today, saying: "Gardaí are investigating the sudden death of a man at Adair Lane, Dublin 2."

"He is yet to be identified.The incident is not being treated as suspicious at this time."

Speaking to The Independent, Dublin City Councillor Christy Burke, gave an insight into the tragic incident.

"Crews were going around checking on rough sleepers at around 11pm and one of the volunteers said they saw this man lying there at around 11pm and they thought he was asleep," he explained.

"When he came back at 2am he noticed that the man was lying in the exact same position, so he went to take a pulse and he couldn't."

"They called an ambulance but he was pronounced dead and the doctors said that the rough sleeper would have been dead for a few hours before he was found."

 

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The Peter McVerry Trust has announced it is opening extra communal spaces and extending hours as Hurricane Ophelia batters the country today. 

The homeless charity are doing so in response to the Red Weather Warnings issued by Met Éireann yesterday evening. 

Anyone who encounters rough sleepers today is urged to advise them to access emergency shelter.

Additional communal spaces will be open at Richmond Street and Aungier Street, and transport will be provided to ensure that all members of the homeless community can avail of the shelter over the next 24 hours. 

A spokesperson for the charity said: “Peter McVerry Trust is constant contact with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and will take any additional measures we can to ensure the safety of people in homelessness during Storm Ophelia.” 

A number of businesses have also invited rough sleepers to seek shelter in their premises. 

Emergency hostels at Little Britain Street, Brú Aimsir, Mount Brown and Blessington Street will also remain open throughout the course of the day with a total of 210 beds available for over night accommodation. 

No homeless person should have to put their life at risk by sleeping rough tonight, which is why it is vitally important that we share this information with those who may not be able to access it. 

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A 26-year-old homeless man is believed to have taken his own life while staying in emergency accommodation in Dublin 8 this week.

The Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) confirmed the news yesterday evening, stating: “The DRHE is aware of the death of a person who was accessing homeless services. "

“The DRHE will not be commenting any further except to offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.”

His death brings to four the number of homeless people who have passed away in just one week.

Two rough sleepers were found dead in Dublin and Cork, while another woman in her 20s took her own life in accommodation in Leixlip.

In light of the recent deaths, the Simon Communities are calling for a vacant home tax and a significant increase in spending on social housing.

It also wants Government departments and State agencies to work closely together in order to tackle the crisis.

Spokesperson, Niamh Randall, say the Government's strategy needs to be revisited:

"The whole Rebuilding Ireland strategy is under review and part of our concern would be that the strategy is predicated on the private sector to deliver a huge amount of social housing.

"Currently the problem isn't producing housing for the private market, so we think that there needs to be an urgent rethink of this."

According the The Irish Independent, some homeless campaigners are concerned that that all homeless deaths have been made public.

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On Thursday morning, news broke that a man, who had been sleeping rough just yards from Dublin's most affluent shopping street, had been found dead.

Jack Watson, who had been a resident of Apollo House late last year, was found outside the Superdry store on Suffolk Street in the early hours of the morning, and was transferred to St James Hospital.

Jack's death, and the two which followed in Co Kildare and Co Cork just days after, has, understandably, devastated charities who seek to help the vulnerable in our nation's cities.

Taking to Facebook in the aftermath of Jack's passing, charity, Hope in the Darkness, articulated its anger, and paid a moving tribute to a man who was 'simply down on his luck.'

"Sadness is far from the only emotion being felt, we are angry!" began the post which has amassed considerable traction over the weekend.

"Angry that our fellow human beings are being forced to sleep out on the streets because there is either no emergency beds available or the beds being offered are unsuitable. 206 rough sleepers were counted the other night."

"This is unacceptable on so many levels. The powers that be will lead everyone to believe there's a bed available on any given night for anyone who rings the freephone. Take it from us this is lies!"

"Many a night we leave the GPO and say goodnight to our pals after witnessing them being denied a bed. Off they go to pick a doorway to bed down in, lay down their bit of cardboard, roll out their sleeping bag and stash their worldly goods down the bottom of it in the hope they won't be stolen."

"Imagine closing your eyes and trying to drift off to sleep, but worrying will you be left in peace for a few hours to rest your weary body or will you be kicked, pissed on, set on fire or sexually assaulted tonight. This is the sad reality of life on the streets for an ever increasing number of people each night."

 

Desperate to illustrate the reality of the homelessness crisis in Dublin, the people behind Hope in the Darkness, continued: "For those who get offered an emergency bed it's like playing Russian Roulette with your personal safety – often your sobriety can be compromised."

"The hostels are rampant with drug use. To anyone fresh out of treatment or working a programme taking a bed in a hostel could quite literally mean life or death. Watching someone else using drugs can be too much of a temptation at times and cause them to relapse/slip. Safe drug free well monitored beds are needed and needed fast!"

Reflecting on Jack's tragic passing, the charity sought to remove the perception the general public may have of the homeless they now see on a daily basis.

"Jack was not a drug user, just a man down on his luck as can happen to anyone of us at any time in our lives. His sleeping bag became his body bag," they wrote.

"A gentleman and talented chef who cooked up a storm for residents and volunteers alike as he spent Christmas safe off the streets in Apollo House."

"Would he still be alive if Apollo House were still up and running, I believe so. You now have a forever bed in heaven Jack."

The powerful post has been liked and shared hundreds of times, with social media users deriding the government for its approach to the homeless and vulnerable in our capital city.

"Disgraceful that this has happened, the country is falling on its knees and the government don't CARE," wrote one while another added: "People cannot afford to live and the government don't care and there will be another economic crash."

If you want to assist with the work Hope in the Darkness do for the capital's homeless and vulnerable, keep an eye on their Facebook page for upcoming events including food drives and sleepovers.

Feature Image: Geza Oravecz Photography

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In February of this year, Cambridge University student, Ronald Coyne, was filmed setting fire to a £20 note which he implied he intended to give to a homeless individual.

After being asked for change by Ryan Davies, who had been homeless for three months at time of the incident, the law student made the decision to humiliate the young man in a move which Ryan detailed for press at the time.

"He says let’s see what I’ve got and pulls out a £20 note and went to pass it to me," Ryan recalled.

“I couldn’t believe my luck, know what I mean. But then he pulled it back and lit it, burnt it and he says 'How's that for change, I’ve changed it into flames."

The footage of the incident led to Coyne's dismissal from the university’s Conservative Association, in addition to further disciplinary action from the prestigious third-level institution.

As a result of being subject to the university's disciplinary process, Coyne has been unable to acknowledge the public outcry born of his cruel behaviour, until now. 

"I made a terrible mistake, and I quite rightly faced disciplinary action for it,” he wrote in a recent apology letter.

“I acknowledge that my behaviour put the entire university in a negative light, and for that I am sorry. For the effect that my behaviour had on you as a community, I am also sorry.”

Reflecting on the months that followed his actions, Coyne reveals that he received considerable criticism online, and extends his gratitude to those who argued that the abuse was disproportionate.

"When the media commentary flared up, strangers sent piles of abusive mail to my family home threatening me with violence, and chemical attacks."

"I received some sympathetic letters and emails from people who thought that the online abuse went too far. To those people, I am still grateful," he wrote.

Ahead of Coyne's return to university this Autumn, Cambridge University made the decision to distribute his letter.

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