Papal visit leads to surge in donations

At least 25 new social housing units will be provided for homeless families after the Capuchin Day Centre provided €5m in funding to the Peter McVerry Trust, with the Pope’s visit providing a surge in donations.

The Capuchin Day Centre on Bow St in Dublin has become synonymous with assisting the less-well-off, led by its founder, Cork-born Brother Kevin Crowley, who said the current housing situation was “a disgrace” and that it would now be extending its own children’s area to meet the demands of families caught up in homelessness.

Due to a growth in donations, Br Kevin said the Capuchins were keen to team up with an organisation with the expertise to provide housing for those caught up in homelessness and chose the Peter McVerry Trust.

They will now use the money to acquire a minimum of 25 new social housing units.

Br Kevin said: “Our donors have been very generous to us and we have got very big and very substantial donations and our main concern is for the dignity and respect of homeless people and to make sure people are treated with dignity and respect.”

During the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland last year he attended at the Capuchin Centre — something that Br Kevin said led to growth in donations.

The Pope’s visit made a huge impact in people’s donations.

“People are fantastic.”

The centre offers food morning and evening, six days a week, to between 800 and 900 people and on Monday mornings deals with between 200 and 300 families who come to access baby food and products.

Br Kevin said the children’s area in the Centre is too small to meet demands and the net project will be to expand it over the coming months.

He also said a further collaboration with the Peter McVerry Trust could occur, particularly in light of the worsening housing crisis.

“The housing situation is absolutely appalling,” he said. People staying in hotels — they should not be staying in hotels. The money the government is putting into hotels, they would have umpteen houses built. It is a waste of money putting people into hotels.

It’s a disgrace and a shame to see little children with their parents queuing up for their dinner.

The Capuchin Day Centre received advice from the Charities Regulator to ensure that all the details of the donation to the McVerry Trust were organised in line with best practice.

It marks a change from when the centre opened in 1969 when it would typically have dealt with 50 people and the brothers had to source leftover bread.

Br Kevin said at one point “things were very, very bad” and he went and prayed, asking for assistance to help those in need.

“We have never ran short of food or money since then,” he said.

Despite no organised fundraising, he said people young and old contributed and donated, even during the worst of the recession. He said the continuing focus was that no child would go hungry and that no-one would die on the street.

“God does speak and God is there,” he said, “I have no doubt about that.”

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