North West Simon Community has thanked the businesses and volunteers who took part and those who supported this year’s annual Sleep Out, held on Friday night in Letterkenny’s Market Square.
“It is growing from success to success, and it is solely down to the goodwill of the volunteers who brave the elements for one night only, so others don’t have to,” Collette Ferguson, Donegal development officer with North West Simon, said. “The volunteers had one aim, and that was to help make a difference to Simon in their community.”
The event is held each year to raise funds and awareness.
On behalf of North West Simon, Collette thanked every individual who supported the effort and the businesses who “adopted a sleeper” on the night. She also thanked hotels and bars for permitting access to volunteers during their collection on the night.
“It’s not always an easy ask, but every penny, no matter how small, can go a long way,” she said. She thanked The Four Lanterns, Pat’s Pizza and The Brewery for their support over the years, saying, “It is always greatly appreciated on the night.”
Cllr. Jimmy Kavanagh, mayor of the Letterkenny Municipal District, launched the night, and Collette thanked him for his words of support, and for highlighting homelessness in Donegal and throughout Ireland.
She said the volunteers were also grateful to gardaí “for keeping a watchful eye over us all throughout the night”.
North West Simon Community prevented 186 families and individuals during 2016 from becoming homeless in Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo, and Collette said the organisation needs support more than ever.
“More and more people in the North West are today turning to the cause for help and support,” she said.
She said there are now more than 8,000 people in emergency accommodation nationally, and many more in housing insecurity in Ireland.
Simon Community has created an online petition calling on the Irish government to make building social and affordable housing a priority for the 2018 Budget. The petition can be signed online at https//action.uplift.ie/campaigns/229
See above for a gallery of images from this year's Sleep Out.