By Aoife Gildea
On this Friday, 15 October, a group of 20 TY Students and 4 teachers from Mullingar Community College will spend the night sleeping out in the school grounds to ‘Shine A Light’ for Focus Ireland and in doing so, raise awareness of homelessness in Ireland.
The sleep out is part of Focus Ireland’s annual Shine a Light campaign.
Joe Rayfus, the Transition Year Coordinator at the school explained why the group became involved in the Shine A Light initiative, “Last year, myself and 12 other teachers took part and raised almost €13,000. It wasn’t feasible at the time to include students due to the COVID restrictions that were in place, but we had great support from our students; many of whom wanted to get involved themselves this year. There are currently 8,212 people who are homeless and relying on emergency homeless accom modation in Ireland.
“However at this moment in time, Westmeath has 30 adults in official homeless emergency accommodation with another 1,222 households on the social housing waiting list – a figure that has remained unchanged in the last 12 months, so it’s important to remember that homelessness is not just a social issue reserved for the streets of the capital.”