Laois secondary school student launches 'Sleep Out #AtHome' fundraiser for Midlands homeless charity

Greg Mulhall

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Greg Mulhall

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greg.mulhall@leinsterexpress.ie

Laois secondary school student launches 'Sleep Out #AtHome' fundraiser for Midlands homeless charity

A fifth year student in Scoil Chríost Rí, Portlaoise has organised a ‘Sleep Out #AtHome’ fundraiser in aid of the Midlands Simon Community.

On Wednesday, May 27, Briony Heffernan-Price will ‘Sleep Out #AtHome’ in her garden in an effort to raise vital funds and awareness for the Midlands Simon Community, and she is encouraging like-minded individuals to follow suit.

The SCR student is currently completing the Pope John Paul II Award through her school, which enables participants to take an active part in the life of their Church, in the life of their community and society through the contribution of voluntary hours.

Owing to the current Covid-19 restrictions and a number of additional factors, Briony struggled to find an organisation to volunteer her time towards and so the ‘Sleep Out #AtHome’ fundraiser came to fruition.

“Given the current restrictions, I found it difficult to find voluntary work to get involved in. I got in contact with several organisations, but unfortunately due to current circumstances they were not looking for more volunteers, I was too young, or events and initiatives had been cancelled or put on hold for the time being,” explained Briony.

“I was in my garden one day, thinking about how I could get involved in encouraging a positive change in our community from my own home, and so the thought of fundraising for a charity came to mind. 

“I had heard about a number of local homeless people who had tragically died in a Midlands homeless shelter, and I wanted to try to help stop something like this from happening again.”

Armed with an idea and a will to help those less fortunate than herself, Briony reached out to local homelessness charity Midlands Simon Community to gain their support and backing.

“I made contact with Noel Greene from Midlands Simon Community and discussed my idea about an online Sleep Out #AtHome. I wanted to raise the vital funds and awareness needed for this charity to continue tackling the enduring homeless crisis, during this period when their usual income has been restricted as a result of this pandemic. 

“The great work they do inspires me, and I chose to support this charity in particular because of the life-changing work they do in providing the essential support and services to those experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness within my local community,” said Briony.

Thanks to the support of the Midlands Simon Community, over 1200 people have already been assisted in rebuilding their lives, moving out of homelessness and into a permanent home. The Midlands Simon support individuals, couples and families who are experiencing or who are at risk of homelessness throughout the Midlands Counties of Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath. Although it may not be evident on the streets of our local towns, too many people still have no place to call home and are sleeping rough.

“During this time of forced isolation, it made me think about all those men, women and children in society who don’t have a safe haven or home to offer protection and security. I also thought about all the people who are alone, who are not living with family or friends, and the loneliness of being in complete isolation all the time. 

“Experiencing these new, unprecedented challenges present in my life, it made me reflect on the life essentials that I don’t have to worry about on a daily basis. There is food on the table every evening, a guaranteed warm bed for me to sleep in every night, and a support system of family and friends that is unconditional. These are basic necessities that too many people are forced to live without.

With a fully-fledged idea and the backing of the Midlands Simon Community, Briony’s fundraiser will take place on Wednesday, May 27, as she hopes to make a positive impact on her local community.

“I am so lucky that I have a home, so for one night I am going to give it up and sleep outside in my garden, and I’m doing it for all of the people whose lives are absent of security, support and warmth. 

“I hope that other people will follow me and sleep out in their gardens or even on their kitchen floor or sitting room sofa, in recognition of the challenging difficulties faced by the homeless in our communities.

“Together we can make that positive change. By giving just one night we can change a lifetime,” finished Briony.

To support the ‘Sleep Out #AtHome’ fundraiser, you can donate to the GoFundMe page HERE or below: