This week the Simon Community announced that they will not be able to have their annual sleep out fundraiser on Market Square due to COVID restrictions and instead they will be going virtual. The local organisation is asking the people of Dundalk and surrounding communities to swap their bed for a sleeping bag and forego their usual comforts for just one night, to help raise much needed funds for people who are homeless.
The Dundalk Sleep Out began in 2013 and was the brainchild of Greenacres couple Maeve and Terry Curtis who wanted to do something to help the worsening crisis of homelessness in our community. The sleep out has proved a huge success and since that first event in 2013 the couple have helped raise over €70000 for the Dundalk Simon Community. According to Maeve the need to tackle the homeless situation around Dundalk is greater now than ever before.
“We wanted to help the Simon initially as we wanted to do something positive for our town and we decided that we would help the Simon given the problem of homelessness was so bad back in 2013. We went to the Simon community and we told them we would like to organise a sleep out at Market Square to try and raise some money for them. They were delighted with the offer and thankfully the event was a big success with the brilliant people of Dundalk getting fully behind the initiative and supporting us with donations which all went straight back to the Simon. Since then we have returned to the Square each year and I believe we have raised in the region of €70000 in total to date,” explained Maeve.
“We have slept out in all kinds of weather including two storms with 2016 and 2018 being particularly ferocious. I can’t overstate who good the people of Dundalk have been each year when we do this fundraiser. From the people who donate, to the local businesses who brought us over tea and pizza, to pupils in Colaiste Rís who went fundraising for us in the Marshes and to the Marshes itself for allowing us use that space it’s been a real community effort,” stated Maeve.
“Unfortunately, the need today to help the homeless is as big if not bigger than ever and although we can’t sleep out at Market Square this year because of Covid restrictions we are asking people to do a virtual sleep out be it in their back garden or in a sleeping bag on the floor in their house. You can ask your friends and family to donate a few euro where possible and you can set up a fundraising page on www.justgiving.ie or else do it the old fashioned way and get a sponsorship card from the Simon Community office in Dundalk. Unfortunately the need to help the homeless is greater than ever and I know that five people have died in recent months on the streets of Ireland which maybe didn’t get as much coverage as normal due to Covid.
“There are people out there who may be feeling isolated at home because of Covid and this is what it feels like the whole time if you are homeless. I miss contact with friends and family and I can’t give my mother a hug at the moment but I know that this will end. If you are homeless you have these feelings every day of the year and we need to help these people in any way we can,” urged Maeve.
Sponsorship cards are available in the Dundalk Simon Community office. Call 0429339583 for further details.