Homeless laois people now sleeping in parks
The homeless situation in Laois has grown to a level where people are sleeping on benches in parks.
The situation is worsening according to Portlaoise St Vincent de Paul, who provide food, clothes and help towards education costs for local people in need.
Billy Fitzpatrick is the current chairperson of the charity.
“It is escalating. I find more people are presenting to us here, but there is nothing really we can do other than give them food vouchers. In the past three weeks,I’ve seen up to ten people coming in homeless looking for help. There is a lot more homeless han people realise,” he said.
In the past Mr Fitzpatrick had reported that homeless numbers were hidden in Laois because people ‘couchsurfed’ in different homes.
Now he said it is more visible.
“They are sleeping in parks, like the people’s park at The Downs. Many more young girls are presenting to us as homeless too. They might have fallen out with their families, and some who have children then are not able to cope,” he said.
The solution is not as simple as building more houses Mr Fitzpatrick believes.
“I know rents are very high but it isn’t so much a housing issue. It is a failure of services. People are put into accommodation then left there with no services in addiction or mental health. Counselling services are badly needed,” he said.
He said that social workers are sending people to them for help.
“I think that is wrong. OK we can help with food but not the core issues,” he said.
He believes that if Laois groups coordinate a response that real help can be given.
“There are local groups like us, like Simon and PATH, we need to get together, with the community welfare officer. We can keep our own identities, but we would have a bigger impact. It would be very easy to do in a local community, it is badly needed,” he said.