Alice Leahy also presented with the Passion for the World Around Us Award By Mayor of Clonmel Dennis Dunne.

Local businesses can play a real and creative role in helping the most marginalised in Irish society – Alice Leahy , Director & Co-Founder of TRUST Addressing the Clonmel Chamber of Commerce

At a time when it is becoming harder than ever to maintain an independent voice in defending the interests of those who find themselves homeless on the streets, ALICE LEAHY who comes from Annsgift, Fethard, said the tremendous support from Tipperary meant a great deal both to her and her colleagues in TRUST.

Welcoming the opportunity to address the Clonmel Chamber of Commerce Alice said that local businesses can play a real and creative role in helping to create a society where all are made welcome and especially in helping to ensure that those who are different are not discriminated against.

Alice Leahy was also presented with the Passion for the World Around Us Award by Mayor of Clonmel Dennis Dunne in recognition for her work for people who are homeless. That award scheme is sponsored by Vodafone.

“At a time of prosperity when considerable resources are available our biggest challenge must be to ensure that people come first and that resources are deployed in a way that really helps rather than further excludes the most marginalised. The people we meet everyday often will not or cannot avail of services because they cannot cope with the pressures of everyday living we all take for granted ,” ALICE LEAHY said describing the many different people that come into TRUST on a daily basis.

Tackling the root causes of why people are homeless on the streets needs real understanding if we are to create a world where everyone will be made to feel welcome. One way in which TRUST seeks to help people to understand what life is like for Ireland’s outsiders Alice said is through education initiatives and active participation in seeking to influence policy on behalf of those who have no voice with submissions to government and public bodies on a regularly basis.

The media she identified as vital in advancing understanding of what it means to be an outsider on the streets. Paying tribute to the local papers for their co-operation and invaluable contribution Alice said that she hoped they would continue to expand their commitment to covering these issues and concerns which are of vital importance if we were to create a more tolerant and inclusive world.

Describing two recent education initiatives undertaken by TRUST for second level students – a National Art Competition and an Essay Competition – both run in conjunction with The Irish Times, she said that it is important that we help the next generation to understand what it means to be excluded so that when they are in a position to do something they may take action.

Those initiatives also involved sending educations packs to every second level school in Ireland with participation by students from all parts of the country culminating in an exhibition of entries, in the case of the art competition, in Dublin Castle.

Alice also emphasised the importance TRUST places in reaching out to the wider community. The recently published book which she edited – WITH TRUST IN PLACE, Writing from the outside – and published by Townhouse, is a good example of how TRUST works in seeking to make people more aware of what it means to be an outsider in modern Ireland. Over forty people contributed to the book including some well known and not so well known people from Maeve Binchy to Christy Moore to High Court Judge Michael Moriarty to people who are homeless – but it struck a chord Alice said given the reaction it generated and underlined the ability of people working together to make a difference.

Describing her childhood in Tipperary and getting her first job in Clonmel Alice also described the formative influence of her early life and the impact it had on her later work on the streets of Dublin with people who are homeless.

“Recognition and support from the people of Tipperary means a great deal not only in financial terms but also as a form of moral support as well. When one speaks out it can be a lonely experience as we have found over the years. But together people can make a difference and tonight’s occasion involving the business community underlines that everyone of us, if we are willing, can make a difference if we are prepared to make the effort to understand and take action,” ALICE LEAHY said.