The recent storms have put increased pressure on charities providing for homeless people, according to Novas, a voluntary organisation that works with vulnerable people. The charity highlighted the danger posed by stormy weather to those sleeping rough and the strain more frequent extreme weather places on already busy services.
“We believe that the increasing number of dangerous weather events certainly makes life more difficult for people who are homeless and spend long periods of time out of doors and particularly for those sleeping rough,” said Dr Una Burns, Head of Policy and Communications at Novas. “However, whatever the weather, people need a home, somewhere secure and safe. Being homeless has such significant long-term impacts on the physical and mental health of those effected.”
“The increasingly bad weather puts additional pressure on our services,” Dr Burns said. “Twice in one week we have had to extend service in TEP [Temporary Emergency Provision] and McGarry [House] in the city (Storm Ophelia and Storm Brian) and we also received a high volume of calls on our helpline during these weather events. It’s vital for us that nobody is left on the streets during particularly inclement weather. We rely upon our amazing group of volunteers during this time as well as our staff, who are very flexible in their working arrangements to ensure the needs of the homeless community are catered for.”
“Preparations for storm Ophelia began in earnest in Novas services on Sunday morning. In order to keep the homeless population of the city safe and well during the impending storm, the organisation extended its services throughout the city, liaised with clients, re-structured rotas and secured building and outdoor space.”
“The storm highlighted the vulnerability of people who are homeless, who spends 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. Every day is a struggle for survival but days like Monday shine a cold light on these difficulties.”
Dr Burns accepted that climate change is a factor in the recent bad weather. Novas is currently working with Kelliher Feeds and Agricultural Supplies in Kerry. “They sell coal and want to ensure that everyone in Tralee burns smokeless coal,” Dr Burns said. “They’re launching a campaign whereby for every bag of smokeless coal they sell, 50c will be donated to Novas’
services in Kerry.”
Novas is a charity and relies on donations to fund its services for homeless and vulnerable people. It is possible to donate to Novas by texting 50300 to donate €4 or making a donation on the website at www.novas.ie.