Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the 2020 Sleep Out for Simon was the most successful to date, raising €137k for the Galway Simon Community.
The Sleep Out for Simon event went virtual last October, due to the prohibition on large gatherings, with participants prompted 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.
More than 200 people took part in the event, with the virtual format enabling it to be more inclusive than ever. Groups taking part included schools from Montessori to Secondary level, choirs, scout groups, sports clubs, businesses, and more.
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.
Amy Lavelle of the Galway Simon Community said that she humbled by the level of support shown by the participants and public on that 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”.
“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.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic there has been growing pressure on Galway Simon’s frontline housing and homelessness teams.
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 €137,205 raised by the Sleep Out for Simon event will be used to assist more than 500 individuals and families facing homelessness in the West of Ireland.
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.
CEO of Galway Simon Community Karen Golden said that this pressure has continued to grow, with a 19% increase in the number of people they are supporting between January and March of this year, compared with 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.”
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”.