Galway Simon Community issues urgent Christmas appeal

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Galway Simon Community Christmas Campaign featuring 'Mike' (played by an actor)

Homelessness and housing charity Galway Simon Community has issued an urgent appeal ahead of Christmas asking people to support them in helping to prevent the trauma of homelessness for people in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

The effects of the pandemic have made the housing situation even worse and the charity says that more and more people across the West are finding themselves at risk of becoming homeless.

Galway Simon Community has supported 746 households so far this year, including 868 adults and 527 children and said their services are experiencing huge surges in demand.

The charity’s Homelessness Prevention Services in particular have seen a 35% increase in the number of people supported compared to the same period last year.

Galway Simon says that their services are being contacted by many people “who had never thought they would find themselves on the verge of becoming homeless.”

Two such people supported by their Homelessness Prevention Services this year were Evelyn and Mike who have shared their stories to raise awareness and funds this Christmas.

Evelyn, a woman in her late 50s, worked for many years as a carer and raised a family in Galway. Her relationship sadly ended and then she had job as a live-in carer, with accommodation provided, until her employer told her they were relocating.

Evelyn was suddenly faced with the very real prospect of having to move into emergency accommodation, living out of a suitcase in a hostel or B&B in Galway.

She reached out to Galway Simon Community for help and they quickly intervened, putting together an action plan to help Evelyn with securing affordable accommodation which prevented her from having to experience the trauma of emergency accommodation.

Mike was another person supported by the charity to avoid going into emergency accommodation. After the Covid pandemic hit, Mike was left with no work, like thousands of others across the country.

“I never imagined that I could end up homeless – it just wasn’t something that ever occurred to me. I’m strong and fit and I’ve worked hard all my life, so I think of myself as someone who doesn’t have to rely on anybody,” Mike said.

Mike was really struggling and at the same time, his sister was terminally ill and things began to unravel out of his control.

He says on top of having no job, he had no routine, was facing a sense of isolation, and then his mental and physical health started to suffer. It was at this point that he reached out to Galway Simon Community.

“They set me up in temporary accommodation which provided me with stability and meant I avoided the stress of having to go into emergency accommodation,” Mike added.

Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community says many others like Mike and Evelyn are in need of their support.

“Galway Simon Community still faces huge challenges in providing supports to the most vulnerable people in our community,” said Karen.

“The homelessness and housing crisis, which has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, has had a devastating impact on many  in our community.

“This has resulted in a huge increase in the number of people turning to Galway Simon for help. With many of our fundraising events being cancelled throughout the pandemic, our Christmas appeal is more important than ever to enable us to continue to provide our services to those who need our support.”

If you would like to help prevent the trauma of homelessness for people in our community this Christmas, please visit www.galwaysimon.ie or call 091 381828 to give a gift to Galway Simon Community today.