THERE are more than 70 families homeless in Limerick with the number continuing to rise, according to voluntary agency Novas.
And they also maintain that many more are hidden homeless or at risk, with many of these families living in emergency B&B accommodation with no cooking facilities.
Novas, who are the largest provider of homeless services in the Mid-West, point out that the traumas of being homeless are multi-faceted and enduring. Head of Policy and Communications with the voluntary service provider, Una Burns explained that for those living in commercial B&Bs, access to basic nutritious food is a challenge.
“Families often rely on takeaway food for weeks and months on end. It is eaten on laps, sitting on beds, in one room. Parents report that their children are putting on weight, they lack concentration in school and their physical wellbeing is being compromised.
“Due to the expensive nature of this food provision, families are finding it impossible to save for the expense of moving to a long-term home, thus protracting the length of time they are homeless,” Ms Burns told the Limerick Post.
However, there is an alternative, she insists.
Novas has arranged for families to have a nutritious and hearty meal in a community café in Our Lady of Lourdes each evening. A family has the opportunity to eat good food, sitting around a table together. It allows a family a break away from one room, in which they play out their lives. It is one less thing to worry about.
Ms Burns describes the initiative as a “vital intervention” to support families who are experiencing homelessness.
“It helps to bring some normality to an extraordinarily difficult time for families and affords families the opportunity to save in preparation of a move to more permanent accommodation, a home of their own. Some 80 per cent of families are homeless due to economic factors. This is one burden we can help with. However, we need the support of the public to do this,”
An evening meal in the community café costs €4 per child and €4.50 per adult. Text NOVAS to 50300 to donate €4. Alternatively, you can log onto www.novas.ie/donate/ to donate more. You can also set up a monthly direct debit to support Novas on an ongoing basis. A monthly direct debit of €28 will provide a hearty meal for a child for a week.