Give back this Christmas… the nightmare of homelessness

by Sarah O’Rourke FMA

Annual_Sleep_Out_Salesians_02In November 2013 the Management Team from Campus Life Services decided to hold a sponsored Sleep Out in a bid to raise awareness and vital funds for the work of Focus Ireland. Focus Ireland works with people who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes. They offer advice, support, education and housing to help people to have and keep a home.  They believe that EVERYONE has a right to a place they call HOME. As Campus Life Services provide such a large amount of accommodation (6 villages) for the students of the University of Limerick, they felt that linking up with Focus Ireland was a perfect match for them.

In November 2014 the Sleep Out was organised by Campus Life Services in conjunction with the Chaplaincy team. As well as supporting Focus Ireland it was decided to give a donation to The Halfway Art House, Limerick.  This voluntary organisation was founded by Paul Thomas Campbell from Newry while he was studying for his Masters in UL. This organisation helps adults find their voice through creative expression using visual art.  Halfway Art House is committed to reaching out to individuals who have sought refuge in 2 Limerick city homeless shelters. Their aim is to encourage participants rebuild their social and interpersonal skills and to help them find their place in the community. In October 2012 Paul received the Outstanding UL President’s Volunteer Award for this work as well as a gold medal award for his volunteering with UL Chaplaincy Music ministry.

Last Thursday night November 26th a Sleep Out was held in the Student Centre Courtyard. It was a mild night and although there was little sleep for participants, they were content that in some small way they were attempting to address the nightmare of homelessness. They also had the security and knowledge that a comfortable bed awaited them on Friday night.

As well as fund raising this event heightened awareness on campus and in the Milford Parish Faith Community around the issue of homelessness for families and individuals, at both local and national levels.