The Homeless Hero

Above: Members of The High Achievers Academy with Brother Kevin Crowley. Image supplied by The High Achievers Academy.

Above: Members of The High Achievers Academy with Brother Kevin Crowley.
Image supplied by The High Achievers Academy.

A group of business people from both North and South got together on Monday December 29th to visit the ‘Homeless Hero,’ Brother Kevin Crowley at the Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People in Smithfield Dublin to get an understanding of how big the homeless issue is in our capital and what can be done about it.

Brother Kevin explains that while the Capuchin Day Centre has journeyed with people in need since 1969 including the last recession of the 1980s, nothing has prepared us for the level of demand for the service. Since the collapse of the banks in 2008 our numbers have more than doubled. Latest figures show we provide 250 breakfasts each day with 400 extra on a Wednesday. Our dinner service has increased and is seldom less than 480, with a couple of days in the week exceeding 500.

In keeping with our child protection policies, we have a designated family area where parents and their children can enjoy nutritious meals in safety. The increase in child poverty is very evident here in the Day Centre with more parents needing to avail of the service.

We also have a medical service, chiropody clinics, an optical service and advice and information clinics. We prioritise the needs of rough sleepers, and the increased energy and water charges for the shower facilities, together with the provision of new underwear, personal hygiene products etc., have all added to our expenses.

Despite trying to cope with the above, the greatest challenge both physically and financially is to help the increased number of people who need food parcels. Demand has risen with each new phase of unemployment and rose from about 300-400 a week in 2008 to around 1,000 in 2011, with further spikes to the current level of 1,800 people who need help to feed their families in the current recession. We have not received an increase in our government funding since 2007 so we need help from the public more than ever.

Having spent some time talking to Brother Kevin and getting a sense of what is important, the ‘gang’ from The High Achievers Club went downtown and returned with a van load of non-perishable food items and underwear. Brother Kevin states that he has ample amounts of clothing and volunteers willing to help but that the bottleneck is to have enough supplies to meet the Wednesday food parcels. Underwear and towels are also in short supply as the day centre now has limited shower facilities.

Steven McGeown and Declan Loy, who head up the High Achievers Club, said that actually going down and seeing the high standards that are there for the homeless and seeing and talking to the numbers of homeless people gave them a sense of the size of the problem. This is an eye opener, and it is very motivational to go and talk to other business people to get their support for Brother Kevin.

Small groups should come together and talk to Brother Kevin and Alan Bailey to see exactly what is needed and then go and raise funds to help out.

For further information contact Alan Bailey, Volunteer Co-ordinator at the Capuchin Day Centre. Email: Phone: 01 8720770.

By Declan Loy