Saturday, 4 Apr 2020

Charity workers bring festive cheer with a 'full Christmas' for homeless

Charity workers organise a “full Christmas” with presents and dinner for homeless hostel residents and families in emergency accommodation.

Spending Christmas in a homeless hostel can make for a “very tough” couple of weeks for people without a permanent home, according to a homeless hostel manager.

Aideen Moran is the St Vincent de Paul (SVP) team manager at the charity’s homeless hostel for single men in Ozanam House in Wexford, which currently houses 31 people.

The hostel works to house residents for Christmas and attempts to try to reconnect them with their families.

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“Over the last few months, if anybody is ready to move on, we try very hard to get them into their own accommodation before Christmas.

“It’s great to get them moved out, have their own front door,” she said.

However, for the residents that remain in the hostel, staff work to make Christmas as special as it can be.

“We do a full Christmas dinner and Santy comes, all the lads get presents,” said Ms Moran.

“They make a list and get individual Christmas presents and we also have a dinner, we pull out all the stops.

“Being homeless is hard every day but it’s an especially tough couple of weeks at Christmas time, so we do what we can to make it special.”

While the hostel initially aimed to house residents for three to six months with the goal of finding them permanent accommodation, most residents now live in the centre for six to eight months, or even a year.

Ages of residents range from 24 to 62.

However, not everybody can get accommodated for Christmas and SVP volunteer Ann Ryan, from Santry in Dublin, visits families who are in emergency accommodation.

This accommodation is most often a hotel and the one she visits in north Dublin houses 35 families, including 64 children.

“Most of the families we visit are there on a long-term basis,” she said.

“We look for cinema tickets, pantos, circuses, anything to get them out of the house,” she added.

The Irish Independent is pleased to support the St Vincent de Paul annual Christmas Appeal.

To donate, visit call 01 8848200 or donate locally.

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