Homelessness and housing charity Galway Simon Community has announced their Sleep Out for Simon challenge in 2020 was their most successful event to date with €137,205 being raised for their frontline services. Sleep Out for Simon went virtual due to Covid-19 and more than 200 people took the challenge on the night of October 2nd of giving up their bed for one night to sleep in their back gardens, on doorsteps, trampolines, garden sheds and office carparks in support of those facing homelessness.
Going virtual meant that the event was more inclusive than ever with people of all ages taking part; from Montessori Groups to Secondary Schools; Choirs to Scout Groups; Sports Clubs to Youth Councils, along with Businesses and Enterprises of all sizes. It was also more widespread than ever before with families, friends, colleagues and teammates taking part in communities’ right across the West, as well as in places as far away as Shanghai, Vancouver, and Seoul.
Throughout the pandemic, Galway Simon Community dealt with immense challenges across their Homelessness Prevention, Housing and Health & Well-being Services. Their dedicated front-line teams worked tirelessly to put additional measures in place to keep their clients, staff and volunteers safe and well. The charity’s income has been severely impacted with the cost of running their services continuing to increase as they respond to the Coronavirus crisis, and their finances remain under significant pressure.
The funds raised from the Virtual Sleep Out for Simon will have a real significance in preventing homelessness during this critical time of need. More than 500 individuals and families facing homeless in the West of Ireland are set to be directly supported by funds raised through the Virtual Sleep Out. The projects set to benefit from the funds include the running cost of Galway Simon’s Resource Centre in Ballinasloe, the fit out of 12 new homes, the charity’s Essentials Fund which supports those at risk of losing their homes with essential household costs at a time of crisis, as well as vital counselling and occupational therapy services for young adults.
Amy Lavelle, Community and Youth Partnerships Coordinator at Galway Simon Community, commented on how she felt humbled by the support shown by participants and the public on the night.
“We were absolutely blown away by the level of support we received for our first ever Virtual Sleep Out. One of the greatest benefits of hosting the event virtually was the ability to make it more inclusive than ever before and it really was inspiring to see so many people from all across the West, and further afield, rising to the challenge to help raise awareness and funds for those facing homelessness during such a critical time of need. We’re particularly grateful to our local team leaders for rallying up support and for helping to showcase the true sense of community that we are lucky to have here in the West.
“In addition to the deep gratitude we have for everyone who participated and donated, we would also like to acknowledge the huge support and collaboration from local businesses, individuals, communities, musicians, artists and entertainers, all of whom made the success of the event possible.” Amy said.
Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community commented on the importance of the Sleep Out at a time when more people than ever before are in need of their services.
“Galway Simon has seen an increase of 19% in the number of people supported between January and March of 2021 compared to 2020. Our concern is that this may be the start of a worrying trend and that the number of people experiencing homelessness will continue to rise as we start to see the effects of the Covid-19 restrictions and measures such as the moratorium on evictions being lifted. Those who slept out on October 2nd last year have not only helped to raise crucial funds to safeguard our services, they have also created an increased level of awareness around the current homelessness crisis we are facing’’. Karen said.
When asked about what they enjoyed most about taking part, one participant said, “Luckily the evening was beautiful and we set up tents in the garden and had a campfire. Lovely family memories were made as well as making the children aware of how lucky we were to be able to move inside when it got so cold later”. Another participant said, “The feeling of togetherness and knowing what your doing is doing so much for somebody out there”.
Galway Simon Community would like to extend a huge thank you to all the participants of the Virtual Sleep Out for Simon last year. They would also like to acknowledge and say a special thank you to their event sponsors including Galway Bay FM, Studio 5 by Cue One, Western Webs, Heavy Man Films and Wild Island Pictures.
Keep an eye out on www.galway.sleepoutforsimon.ie for details of the 2021 Virtual Sleep Out for Simon coming soon.