Storm highlighted vulnerability of homeless people in Limerick

STORM Ophelia highlighted the vulnerability of people who are homeless, who spend large parts of the day out of doors, those who are rough sleeping and those who are sofa surfing but have no place to call home.

That’s according to Novas, the largest provider of homeless services in the Mid-West, who opened up their Temporary Emergency Provision (TEP) on Lord Edward Street at the height of the storm on Monday.

Normally open from 9pm until 9am – to provide a warm, dry and safe place for 20 adults to sleep — it was opened 24/7 during Storm Ophelia and additional clients were also accommodated.

“Preparations for Storm Ophelia began on Sunday morning when we extended our services throughout the city, liaised with clients, re-structured rotas and secured building and outdoor space,” Novas’ Head of Policy and Communications, Una Burns told the Limerick Post.

“The storm highlighted the vulnerability of homeless people and the lack of familial and social supports available to them. There were no injuries among the homeless people during the storm and we are confident that we got everyone in doors, with our staff driving around throughout the day to ensure nobody was left outside,” she added.

On Monday night as the worst of the storm passed, Novas continued to deal with the aftermath. McGarry House, Brother Russell House and the TEP each made provision for an additional four clients. Its family services worked throughout the day and evening to provide food for families living in B&B accommodation who had no access to meals for their children.

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Meanwhile, Novas’ Street Outreach service proceeded as normal on Monday evening, with two dedicated volunteers providing hot meals to 18 individuals who were not in services, but who rely on this daily support. The Out-of-Hours service proceeded as normal and from 5 to 9pm on Monday evening took more than 50 calls from people looking for support and accommodation.

“The number of people accessing Novas’ services continues to rise with the Street Outreach service busier than ever and the TEP service turning people away on a nightly basis. McGarry House has resorted to providing sleeping bags to people presenting there late at night, as the service is at capacity and people are forced to sleep rough,” Ms Burns explained.

To donate to Novas services, text NOVAS to 50300 to donate €4 or make a donation online at

by Alan Jacques