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Dublin Simon Community 40th Anniversary

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Last month they celebrated 40 years and counting of total commitment to improving the lives of the homeless in Ireland. Here to talk to us about their efforts in the past, present and future are Sam McGuinness, CEO of Simon, and Sharon Keogh - manager of this Saturday's annual Fun Run.

On Saturday, September 19th, Dublin Simon Community commemorated 40 years since its foundation in 1969 by a group of students from Trinity and UCD. The proud event was held in Dublin Castle and was attended by President Mary McAleese as well as many former and founding members, including Bob Geldof! Today, we talk to the CEO of Dublin Simon, Sam McGuinness, about the organizations past present and future,Sharon Keogh who will be filling us in on the upcoming annual fun run as well as Robbie Donohoe who has seen his life turn around thanks to Dublin Simon!

To follow on their celebrations, Dublin Simon Community's Annual fun run takes place on Saturday 10th of October. The fun run is the oldest charity race event (first race took place in 1983) that takes place in the Phoenix Park in Dublin and is an action packed family event for people of all ages.

Their target this year is to raise a whopping €100k. If they can achieve this it is the equivalent to funding the Soup Run for over 2 years which costs €40k annually. We went out and shot with two of the Dublin Simon Volunteers Grace and Mark and saw them in action on the soup run.

Also Simon Week 2009 takes place from 5th to 11th October 2009. Simon Week represents a unique opportunity for our organisation to raise awareness of homelessness, to urge all sections of Irish Society to understand the causes of homelessness in Ireland and to take action to bring homelessness to an end. The Week also celebrates the work of Simon's staff and volunteers throughout the country.

Sam McGuinness - CEO Dublin Simon Community

Sharon Keogh - Manager Fun Run
Sharon started with Dublin Simon 2 ½ years ago as an assistant in their fundraising department. She worked on the Fun Run and other campaigns and has progressed now to be the manager of the Fun Run campaign. Over those years she's seen the generosity of people increase year on year and she hasn't seen this waiver yet during the recession. She reckons Irish people will always be charitable and especially in times like these, they are giving whatever they have to spare to people in less fortunate situations.

Robbie Donohoe - beneficiary of Dublin Simon
Just two years ago, Robbie was spending his days drinking and sleeping on the streets of Dublin. Now he's turned his life around and works and has his own apartment on North Circular road in Dublin.

Robbie's story
He was working for a recycling company and lost his job. It was taking too long for any social welfare payments to come through so he lost his accommodation and ended up on the streets. From there he slipped into a vortex of drinking away his problems on the streets of Temple Bar and sleeping there, thinking he was safer there than in shelter's as he had heard some horror stories.

When Dublin Simon found him, they gave him a three week detox to rid his body of alcohol. They taught him how to go into a shop and not think of alcohol and retrained his mind to do basic domestic chores like cleaning and cooking.

He was eventually re-housed and given a medical card and Robbie was so grateful, he wanted to give something back. Initially, it was small chores, like putting beds together, then moved on to collections and now is working on the fun run and doesn't seem likely to stop anytime soon. 'I'm in a nice little apartment on the North Circular Rd., I'm a father and I've plenty of friends.if I can do it, anyone can.'

40th Anniversary of Dublin Simon Community
The Simon Community was founded in 1969.

This year's event was held in Dublin Castle. Guests on the day were President McAleese, Bob Geldof (former volunteer), Luka Bloom, Jim Murray (First ever full time volunteer with Simon) and Jimmy Wynne long term resident with Simon who had benefited enormously from their efforts.

President also spoke about the term 'down and outs' once a common description used to describe people experiencing homelessness. She said that no-one should be 'out' and the Simon Community worked to bring people in.

Current figures (latest):
. Over 2,000 people are homeless in the Greater Dublin Area. The official count of 2005, including those sleeping rough, found more than 2,000 adults were homeless in Dublin, including 1,361 households.
. On any given night, there are up to 90 people sleeping rough in the Dublin area.
. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The 'invisible' homeless, people who live in emergency accommodation; in shelters, hostels, refuges, in B&Bs or double share with friends and relatives, make up about 20 times the number of people sleeping rough. They are also in need and equally without a home.

Identified causes of homelessness
. Poverty
. Housing shortages
. High Cost of Private Rented Accommodation
. Relationship breakdown
. Mental Health Difficulties
. Leaving care or prison
. Addiction problems

Dublin Simon Community provides the following services to people who are homeless:
. 'Rough Sleeper Team' makes contact with people on the streets and provides access to emergency accommodation.
. Dublin Simon's Emergency Shelter provides emergency accommodation, respite and support for people who are homeless.
. Resettlement and Training assists people living in Simon temporary accommodation to develop skills for independent living.
. Transitional Housing provides self-contained accommodation and a high level of support to assist people to move into settled accommodation.
. Supported Housing provides housing, mostly for older people who do not have the capacity to live independently.
. Post-Settlement Support maintains contacts with people who experienced homelessness in the past and are now in settled accommodation.

About the Soup Run:
. The Soup Run is the original project of Dublin Simon Community and is often the first point of contact for people who want to link into their range of services.
. The Soup Run consists of over 100 part-time volunteers who go out 365 nights of the year offering soup, sandwiches, tea and a good chat to those who are homeless around the city.
Managed by the Rough Sleepers Team, the Soup Run volunteers conduct street searches for people sleeping rough, maintain contact with them and try to help them form links back into the community.

. Dublin Simon 26th Annual Fun Run - Saturday 10th October, 2009.
. Dublin Simon celebrates 40th years in 2009.
. The 5 mile Fun Run caters for all - children, school kids, runners & walkers of all levels. Kid's races for under 7, under 12, school kids & all other ages welcome.

. Dublin's Lord Mayor starting the Fun Run races
. Kids races @ 9.30am & 9.45am
. Main race @ 10.30am
. Prize for best 'Fancy Dress' costume
. Prize for most money fundraised!
. Trophy for the school who raises the most!
. Every person who participates and every penny fundraised will make a difference.
. Dublin Simon target this year is €100k and all the money raised goes direct to Dublin Simon. The amount is equivalent to funding the Soup Run for over 2 years (€40k annually).
. Registration available NOW @ OR call fundraising @ 01 671 5551
. Late registration available on the morning of Run for additional €5 (8.30-9.30am)
. Longest running charity event in Phoenix Park
. Get all your friends and colleagues to take part and you can help Dublin Simon to reach their target.
. Musical entertainment for those who prefer to take on the role of supporters so a great day guaranteed for everyone!

Race competitors €20, plus suggested sponsorship €150
13 - 18 yr olds: €10, plus suggested sponsorship €50
Schools €20 per school (no limit on number of students) suggested
Sponsorship of €50 per student
8 - 12 year olds: €5 plus suggested sponsorship of €20
7 and Under €5 (no suggested sponsorship)
Families €40 (2 adults and up to four children)

Website: Twitter & Facebook

Registration @ OR call fundraising @ 01 671 5551