Return to Roots to Mark 50 years of Simon Community in Dublin
Leading charity marks a half century of closing the door on homelessness with special event.
Dublin, 15 November: A team of founding volunteers will revisit the location where a group of students first gathered back in 1969 and formed an organisation, which grew to become Simon Community.
Those students from UCD and Trinity were inspired to act after attending a talk by Anton Wallich-Clifford who created the original Simon Community in London after he encountered numerous people experiencing homelessness in his work for the probation services at Bow Street Magistrates court in the early 60s.
Using a shed on the grounds of Trinity College, the student volunteers cooked soup, made sandwiches and delivered sustenance and support to rough sleepers around Dublin on late night soup-runs. Five decades on from February 1969, the Soup Run is still operating 365 days a year. It is one of a wide range of services delivered by Dublin Simon Community to address and prevent homelessness, which cover the journey from street to home and closing the door on homelessness.
This half-century milestone will be marked tonight (15.11.19) by a Commemoration Event at Regent House in Trinity College. The event will reflect on the early days with the original volunteers, hear the experiences of clients who have been supported by Dublin Simon Community to close the door on homelessness, and discuss changes in the landscape and the organisation over 50 years.
Broadcaster Bryan Dobson will welcome guests to a programme of discussion and performance, including a panel discussion with founding volunteers and performances from members of the Dublin Simon Community Participation & Development group.
This event will also mark the launch of the annual arts publication, Scrappy But Happy 9, produced by clients of Dublin Simon Community. Artwork from Scrappy But Happy 9 will be exhibited at the event.
Last year, almost 7,700 individuals and families were supported across Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Meath, Louth, Cavan and Monaghan by Dublin Simon Community. Official figures show that the number of people experiencing homeless in Ireland is now in excess of 10,000. The homelessness crisis means that the services of Dublin Simon Community are needed now more than ever.
In its 50th year, Dublin Simon Community is moving forward in addressing the homeless crisis with a range of construction and redevelopment projects that will deliver permanent housing to those experiencing homelessness. It is also extending its existing specialist treatment and health services at Ushers Island which, with the help of Government funding, will provide 100 treatment beds.
Speaking at the event, Dublin Simon Community CEO, Sam McGuinness said: “Tonight we say thank you to those that founded Simon in Dublin, who held the values of equality, ethos of volunteering, and professionalism in their work.
In the 50 years since Simon Community began it has constantly evolved to reflect the changing needs and complex issues facing those experiencing homelessness.
By reaching out to people in their darkest and most vulnerable hours, thousands of shattered lives have been rebuilt and saved. This is thanks to the continuing dedication of the volunteers, staff members, donors and supporters.
With record numbers of more than 10,000 people currently experiencing homelessness we need the continued support of the public and the Government to break the cycle of fear and despair for the thousands of people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. Closing the door on homelessness is an achievable reality.”