herald

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Rough sleepers offered beds as some choose to brave blizzard

The Emergency Homeless Shelter in St Catherine’s sports centre
The Emergency Homeless Shelter in St Catherine’s sports centre

More than 20 people slept rough in blizzard-like conditions as outreach teams made desperate efforts to get them into shelter.

Those sleeping on the city's streets in below-freezing temperatures were offered shelter by teams from the Peter McVerry Trust - but many refused to go indoors.

Teams were engaging with rough sleepers until 5.30am yesterday, coming across 21 people out in the blizzard.

They managed to convince six people to take up emergency shelter, with one other opting to sleep at a garda station.

Warm

Peter McVerry's national director of services Brian Friel - who was out until the early hours of Friday morning - said one man was using four sleeping bags to keep warm.

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Friel said that repeated efforts were made by workers to bring those sleeping rough inside.

It is understood that teams were out all day yesterday doing the same in preparation for more bad conditions last night.

"We were looking to identify people who were still sleeping outside and try to get them indoors," Mr Friel said.

"We were out from 11pm to 5.30am, it was very cold and windy, especially up along the quays.

"There were some on Henry Street, there were some along the quays, some in doorways and then some on the southside near Baggot Street, and then also around the Parnell Street area.

"Some people were much more wrapped up and insulated. There was one gentleman in a tent who had four sleeping bags wrapped around him and he was quite happy to stay where he was.

"There were others who were just cold and the idea of a hot shower, hot food and a warm bed meant they were quite happy to come into the mini-bus and be transported up to the beds."

Mr Friel added that his teams approached those who did not want to take up accommodation on a number of occasions and were hopeful of changing minds again last night.

Emergency

More than 200 extra emergency beds were in the system for Thursday night, with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) saying further beds were added for last night in case any more people presented themselves.

"In total, the Peter McVerry Trust made 185 Extreme Cold Weather Placements available," a Peter McVerry spokesman said.

"This included 160 in Dublin city, with 120 of these in St Catherine's sports centre in Dublin 8, in partnership with the DRHE, and a further 40 spread across existing Peter McVerry Trust services."

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