‘Those who work with outsiders can be made feel outsiders themselves’

In just two days this month 54 people attended a social and health agency premises in Dublin’s Liberties.
Trust, a non-denominational, befriending, social and health agency working since 1975 with people labelled homeless, occupies the basement of the Iveagh House building, between St Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral.

“We own no property, spend no money on fundraising or PR, and don’t send out begging letters. Our running costs for 2013 – our last audited accounts – was €265,000. As we are not grant aided, these costs are met by voluntary donations which we receipt and gratefully acknowledge,” said director and co-founder Alice Leahy.

She was speaking yesterday in St Bartholomew’s Church of Ireland on Dublin’s Clyde Road, during the ecumenical “Walk of Light” organised by the Dublin Council of Churches to mark the beginnings of the new liturgical year.

“Those we work with are generally treated and seen as outsiders in our world,” Ms Leahy said. “By implication, those who work with people who are outsiders can be made to feel outsiders themselves.”

Of the 54 people, she recalled, “two were new, one male, one female, both Irish” while six of those people called on both days.

The 54 came from 10 countries – Ireland, Poland, South Africa, Romania, the US, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Mauritius.

In the same week, “people also came from Zimbabwe, Estonia, Turkey, Ukraine and Senegal –15 nationalities in total in one week”.

They slept rough “in squats, tents and cars, Harcourt Street, Garda stations, internet cafes, Pearse Street, Rathmines, Talbot Street, Camden Street, Baggot Street, Parnell Street, Aungier Street, Henry Street, Blessington Street, Wilton Place, Nicholas Street. Some were sofa surfing in flats and hostels,” she said.

In all, 33 people had showers and 35 sets of clothes were given out in those two days, she added.
“We are not a public washing facility and our submission to Dublin City Council on need for same can be seen on our website [trust-ireland.ie].”

“We know we cannot change the world but we can all make a difference,” she said.