Volunteer begs TDs to visit Cork’s homeless to understand the crisis

A volunteer who invited Cork South Central TDs to help her aid the city’s homeless reveals she is disappointed with most of their responses.

Christina Chalmers had extended the invitation to the five sitting TDs as well as election hopefuls during Tuesday night’s People’s Debate with Vincent Browne’ on TV3, which was held in the Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork.

Ms Chalmers, who co-ordinates dozens of volunteers on a regular basis, had already extended a similar invitation to TDs in Cork North Central — all of whom joined her teams on one of their Friday night rounds.

The volunteers meet every second Friday night outside Cork City Library on Grand Parade, where they are divided into teams and given care packages to help those homeless people who do not make it to a shelter for the night.

Ms Chalmers said they recently used cardboard and bubble wrap to create a makeshift mattress to place on a divan bed base in a derelict house on the city’s southside.

They have since bought inflatable mattresses for the people in question.

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Ms Chalmers said that, after filming of show, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was the only sitting TD who took her details and said he would join the volunteers. Labour TD Ciaran Lynch said he would join them after the election.

She said Green Party candidate Lorna Bogue and Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire had already joined her prior to Tuesday night, while Independent candidate Diarmaid Ó Cadhla has also helped, and did an all-night sleepout with Ms Chalmers and others to raise awareness.

“I firmly believe that if they came out with us to see it for themselves, they would do more to tackle homelessness,” Ms Chalmers said.

“Over the last 12 months, we have got 13 people off the streets, either by getting them into treatment centres or helping them to secure accommodation.

“If we, as a group of volunteers, can achieve that there is no excuse for the Government.”

Ms Chalmers said that one of the men who they helped get accommodation now volunteers with the group himself.

She added that Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien and Independent candidate Thomas Kiely regularly volunteer since their first night out with the team, when they were part of a group that discovered an unconscious homeless man who had been the victim of an assault.

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She said that Mr O’Brien held the victim’s hand and spoke to him as a paramedic performed CPR, while Mr Kiely held a sheet over the man to shelter him from the rain.

Ms Chalmers said that she has seen the victim on the streets since that night, and that he has recovered from the attack.

The volunteers meet tonight and every second Friday night at the City Library on the Grand Parade at 10pm.

For more information, see the ‘Please join me in Helping Cork’s Homeless’ page on Facebook.


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