Irish charity urges people to join 'virtual sleep-out' tonight to raise money for homeless

Irish charity urges people to join 'virtual sleep-out' tonight to raise money for homeless

PEOPLE of Ireland are being encouraged to join a virtual sleep-out tonight to raise money for the homeless.

Behind the initiative is Focus Ireland - a charity that provides services for people who are homeless and people at risk of homelessness in Ireland.

They're calling it the 'Shine a Light Night', and it's due to start at 8pm this evening, with the aim of raising €1.3 million to help the over 8,000 people currently sleeping rough around the country.

The charity are encouraging people to camp out safely in their homes, gardens or workplaces, and to join in with everyone else virtually, using the hashtag #ShineALightNight.

This will be the ninth annual Shine A Light Night that Focus Ireland have run, and usually they'd have larger, more public events set up for the initiative, but due to Covid-19 they've had to set strict limits.

"Well this is the ninth year of Shine a Light and this year because of Covid-19 restrictions, we are asking people to do things in a very different way," said Focus Ireland chief executive Pat Dennigan.

"We are asking people to sleepout in their homes and in their gardens and in their own private safe spaces, amongst their family."

He added that doing so was in line with current government restrictions regarding Covid-19.

"Covid-19 has been a huge challenge for us all, and it has been particularly challenging for the many men, women, families, and children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness," the charity said on their website.

"The Coronavirus means people experiencing homelessness are more vulnerable, and our front line services have adapted quickly to a 49 per cent increase in demand.

"Since the Covid-19 public health emergency began in March, Focus Ireland has moved 519 families and 1,119 children out of homelessness nationwide."

So far, over €800,000 has been raised.

For more information about the Shine A Light Night, click here.