A homelessness charity is to host an overnight sleepout at the training ground of League of Ireland champions Cork City in a bid to raise funds and awareness for their services.

Focus Ireland’s ‘Big Rebel Sleep Out’ comes as the latest figures show that 9,104 people were homeless in January — a third of whom are children.

Focus Ireland fundraising manager Rebecca Reynolds said the homeless and housing crisis is deepening, with children and young people the most severely impacted.

“Over 3,000 children [are homeless] across Ireland including children here in Cork City and County,” she said. “The housing and homeless crisis is a shocking reality. The largest group of people amongst those who are homeless are four years or younger.”

The sleepout will take place at Cork City’s training ground in Bishopstown on Saturday, April 14, with the site affording suitable outdoor space, adequate parking, and access to indoor facilities for the 12-hour sleep out.

The charity hopes the unique setting may attract some of the club’s fans, and the sleepout, which was launched yesterday in Bishopstown, has received the backing of Cork City manager John Caulfield.

“We are proud to support the Focus Ireland Big Rebel Sleep Out and delighted to host it here at our Bishopstown Training Ground. Creating awareness of the issue of homelessness, supporting the families Focus Ireland works with locally is so important,” said Caulfield.

“That’s why we are calling on the men, women, and children of Cork, including our thousands of supporters, to consider this initiative. The Rebel Army certainly back us week in, week out, and if they could consider backing Focus Ireland for one night, from 8pm till 8am, it would make a huge difference to those impacted by homelessness.”

“Every aspect of a child’s life is impacted, from play to education to diet,” said Ms Reynolds.

“However, thanks to the hard work of Focus Ireland staff based at South Mall in the city, we can support families as they seek to exit homelessness.

“We also prevent families from falling into homelessness in the first place.

“This is a great community event in collaboration with a great community club and we are very grateful to Cork City FC for coming on board and supporting our first Big Rebel Sleepout, which we plan to make an annual event.”

Focus Ireland says that those taking part in the sleepout will receive support, advice and materials to help with fundraising in advance of the event, and on the night.

Individuals, clubs, and organisations interested in taking part are asked to contact Focus Ireland’s Dick White on 086 8223690 or dick.white@focusireland.ie

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