An Post launches mobile data sharing initiative for the homeless

Joe McKeever is somebody who will benefit from a mobile data-sharing initiative from An Post to keep Ireland's homeless connected.

An Post launches mobile data sharing initiative for the homeless

Joe McKeever is somebody who will benefit from a mobile data-sharing initiative from An Post to keep Ireland's homeless connected.

Called The Shared Network it will be available to people who are homeless or living in temporary emergency accommodation through charities working in the area of homelessness.

An Post is donating an initial 18,000GB of data from its mobile network across 2,000 SIM cards to Dublin Simon Community, Focus Ireland, Peter McVerry Trust, St Vincent De Paul and Merchants Quay Ireland.

“I became homeless, mostly through drug addiction and misbehaving,” said Joe, 20, from Bray, Co Wicklow.

“I have been homeless on and off since I was 15 years old. I was in care but over the last two years, I have been sofa-surfing in between being on the street and staying in hostels.

“I had not talked to my father for five years but I saw him last week and he shook my hand and said he was sorry. I talk to my Ma. I talk to most of my family. “

Joe has been helped by a key worker at Merchants Quay Ireland and is now working towards being drug-free. “Addiction is a very bad road to be on and I would give anything to get off it,” he said.

Joe has a mobile phone and he relies on it to help him find a hostel at night. “I would be lost without my mobile phone; I would also be very lonely.”

Director of advocacy, communications and research at Focus Ireland, Mike Allen, said the data would be mainly used by families they worked with to find a new home.

“Finding a home is very time consuming and all the available property is on the web,” he said.

Earlier this year, An Post launched Address Point for people who are homeless or living in temporary accommodation.

People registering for the service are given an address where the post office is located but it does not state that it is a post office.

Mr Allen said Address Point had helped homeless people to apply for jobs and engage in “officialdom”.

An Post is also donating every €19 booklet of 20 Christmas stamps sold to a special fund that will be shared among the homeless charities.

Based on anticipated sales, An Post expects the donation to homeless charities this year to be at least €150,000.

“I think they (An Post) are one of the leading organisations who are trying to think through how the services they run can make a social contribution,” said Mr Allen.

Managing director of retail at An Post, Debbie Byrne, said they wanted to be a force for good, wherever possible.

"We have the expertise and the national reach to make a real difference, she said.

An Post customers can also donate data to The Shared Network

    The five charities are:
  • Dublin Simon Community
  • Focus Ireland
  • Peter McVerry Trust
  • St Vincent De Paul
  • Merchants Quay Ireland

More in this section