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“It’s gut wrenching” says Kilkenny Helping the Homeless volunteer of having to leave so many on the streets

The group's hoping to raise some much needed cash to help their cause

Hallowe’en as we know it may be cancelled in its usual form as we head for Level Five restrictions but that’s not stopping local groups from using the time wisely.

The Parents’ Association of Scoil Phádraig National School in Ballyhale has organised a festive fundraiser from which proceeds will be shared with Kilkenny Helping the Homeless.

Aoibhlinn Gallagher chairs the parents’ association & she sums up details of the virtual event by saying “So what we want people to do is to wrap themselves up in toilet paper, make a little video of it being done or maybe just a picture of the finished product, then we want them to donate to our fundraiser which is in aid of the parents’ association of Ballyhale National School and Kilkenny Helping the Homeless, so there’s a GoFundMe which is on our Facebook page & the Kilkenny Helping the Homeless Facebook page and then the challenge is maybe share it, challenge other family & friends to do it as well to spread the word and maybe get more money raised”.

Where will the proceeds go? Aoibhlinn says “What we do is we try and support the school in terms of curricular and extra curricular activities so, you know, we run events, sometimes we would run discos, we would organise Santa for the school, that sort of thing, we would also subvent activities that would go on in the school and then obviously Kilkenny Helping the Homeless has been doing a great job going up & helping people homeless in terms of clothing & food and that and trying to make their lives a little bit more bearable.”

This is not the first time the Ballyhale community has assisted Kilkenny Helping the Homeless with  members of a certain Shefflin clan recently joining them in Dublin as volunteer Linda Comerford outlines “Yeah, we had Henry & Deirdre come up with us the last Saturday night we were up, great to have them, we’ve had some Kilkenny people up in the past as well so it’s one thing to sit at home and to see on the news about the housing & homeless crisis and to hear it or read it in the paper, but to come up and to experience it first hand for yourself and meet these people it’s an experience that’s very hard to explain to someone like, as Henry said on the Late Late Show, there’s always that one person that sticks with you on a given night or the one issue that popped up that sticks with you so listen it was fantastic to have them & hopefully we’ll have them again.”

Linda’s delighted with the virtual fundraiser that’s planned & says they need the help now more than ever noting “Oh, most definitely, I mean normally we might have a couple of bag-pack days in the local supermarket or we’d have some cake sales just to kinda keep our money so that we can help families but we haven’t been able to do any fundraising this year, so any donations or being involved in a virtual fundraiser like this is vital for us to help the families we help, it’s fantastic”.

Linda says the situation on the capital streets doesn’t appear to be improving commenting “Last year we were inundated with people and I really didn’t believe it could get a whole lot worse, boy was I wrong, it’s so difficult like when we pull up on the Chatham Street, which is just off Grafton Street, anytime between 6 & 6:30pm, we’re not even out of the car and the queue is forming and everyone knows our table doesn’t start until 7 or thereabouts, it’s such a mix of people because you have some very elderly people, some who are in hospital, some who are sleeping rough, you have then a cohort of very young people and you’d be worried for them”.

And she adds “Everyone has their own story, an awful lot of mental health issues at the minute as well so it’s difficult, I mean when you’re up there you try and keep upbeat, we’re kinda messing with them and we’re messing amongst ourselves but I’ve noticed lately on the way home it’s harder and harder to stay upbeat because it’s just gut wrenching, you’re leaving them on the streets, it’s cold, you’re into the dark nights, it’s wet, it’s miserable and it’s hard to get into the car and go away and see that and leave them all behind, I mean you can’t bring them all home, but it’s hard to do that.”

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