herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Meet the mum-of-five who feeds homeless in the city

Mum Lynn Cahill who feeds the homeless
Mum Lynn Cahill who feeds the homeless
Lynn Cahill, Rachel Byrne, Dulce de Prado and Keith Freer

A young mum-of-five spends every Friday cooking for hours to feed 100 homeless people on Dublin's streets that night.

While her children are tucked up in bed, Lynn Cahill (29) spends up to six hours walking the streets to dole out hot meals and warm clothes alongside other members of her newly-formed group, Cairdeas.

Cairdeas has helped hundreds with clothes, food and accommodation - mainly through their own donations since they started last November.

The group has begun weekly clothing collections in various areas and local businesses have come on board to help with catering.

"My friend Nicola Moore runs a similar group called VISIT in Tallaght and I went out to help her last year," Lynn said.

"I was walking the streets handing out sandwiches and I saw the conditions people were living in. I just couldn't sleep that night thinking of people huddled in the cold while I was tucked up in my nice warm bed.

"I started to go out once a month and this quickly became once a week. I helped out with a Tallaght group on Christmas Day feeding the homeless with my sister Clodagh, cousin Niamh and Nicola.

"Then I went home and cooked Christmas dinner for my five children and partner Gareth Henvey who has been really supportive in this. It was the best Christmas I ever had because I felt I was doing something really worthwhile."

Lynn formed Kildare-based Cairdeas and now has five other members who help her each week, including chef Dulce de Prado.

"Cairdeas means friendship so we thought that worked well. We just want to help people link into other facilities that could help them," Lynn said.

Each Friday, Lynn spends the day cooking for the night ahead, as well as minding her five children who range in age from three months old to 14.

generous

"We started helping people with accommodation out of our own pocket but now we're getting generous donations of clothes, ground mats and sleeping bags," she said.

"One Kilcock butcher, John Ryan, is also kindly donating meat for the meals. We were inspired to cook hot meals after a man told us he could no longer stomach sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and tea.

"We all now spend most of Friday making dishes like meat-balls, shepherds pie, chicken curry, stew and Sunday dinner with apple pie and cream for dessert."

Lynn, Keith Freer, Rachel Byrne, William Nolan, Anne O'Reilly and Dulce de Prado then drive to Dublin.

"We hit the streets about 8pm and walk until about 2am with stoves to keep the food warm. We bring a notebook with us for requests," Lynn said.

"If anyone needs size eight runners, then we'll do our best to source them. We also make sure to bring dog food for anyone with pets."

Lynn says while most of the homeless are "nervous" of being on the streets, "people just want to be respected and treated with compassion and understanding".

"Each person we meet is an eye-opener and has their own unique story which we feel privileged that they share with us," she said. "Most people just want the chat as much as the food."

Lynn collects clothing each week at various locations which are listed on her Facebook page.

hnews@herald.ie

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