On October 16th IT Sligo Students’ Union as well as 6 students from IT Sligo, 2 Students’ Union Officers from St. Angela’s College, Sligo and a member of the USI (Union of Students in Ireland) Executive Team slept out to raise awareness to the housing and homelessness crisis which we is currently facing in Ireland in aid of Focus Ireland, a housing and homelessness charity.
The event was ran with the aid of a former IT Sligo student Monica McElhinney to raise much needed funds for the charity as currently in Sligo there are 31 adults in emergency accommodation as well as 442 households on the social housing waiting list (Focus Ireland,2019). There have been increases in purpose built student accommodation in Galway and Dublin at 18% and 24% respectively only in the last year and a half. Since then Students’ Unions have rose their concerns through USI who have continuously fought to see that rent caps of 4% to be brought in on purpose built student accommodation in rent pressure zones, which was passed into legislation only this summer. Students Union officers have valiantly fought for better quality and affordable accommodation for students for years and now they are looking at fighting for better accommodation across the board.
All who attended the event said that it was a worthwhile experience; it made them thankful to have a roof over their heads and a comfortable place to sleep. It has changed their perception of what it is like to spend every night on the streets. There are so many factors which can impact ones sleep, such as passersby, lighting, a toilet facility and the weather. The group were lucky that it was mild and everyone commented on how it would be if it was to be raining or snowing.
IT Sligo SU would like to thank everyone who came out and attended the event. The SU will be running a bucket collection, in the near future and thank anyone who has already donated to the worthy cause.
Laura Muldoon the Students’ Union President says:
The Sleep Out was an extremely successful event, we raised people’s awareness of homelessness but we also challenged our perceptions of homelessness while also raising money for a such a roof cause. The stereotypical view of what homeless people has changed. We hear of students in Galway sleeping in cars, students in Cork waiting for the colleges to close late at night to then sleep under a bridge and once the college opens again in the morning going in to have a shower. How long will it be before we hear of students in Sligo becoming homeless due to the ever increasing costs of higher education, accommodation, placement, cost of living? Students’ are being priced out of education and this level of stress and lack of security has to be impacting on their mental health. IT Sligo SU will continue to lobby the government on breaking the barriers to higher education, to ensure accommodation is affordable for all. I have already lobbied Deputy Tony McLoughlin on some of these issues and will continue to lobby all Sligo-Leitrim TD’s to ensure a level playing field for all members of society.
I would like to thank Monica from Focus Ireland for all her hard work and helping to make the event a success, as well as the team in the SU especially Tara (Welfare Officer) and Jason (Education Officer). We also want to pay thanks for the support from St. Angela’s SU, my counterpart Joe Redehan and Shauna(Entertainments Officer) and Marie Lyons from USI for coming out with us and attending the event.
Laura also attended the official launch of the Shine A Light Night in the Mayor’s Parlour on Friday,18th of October. There will be a number of events ran on the night of the 18th, sleep outs will be in Strand Celtic, Sligo GAA Centre of Excellence and City Hall. They will help to raise awareness of homelessness in the wider Sligo community.
Information for Editors:
IT Sligo Students’ Union is the Reprehensive Body of 3,200 students in IT Sligo
Laura Muldoon is President for the 2019/20 academic year
Contact details: 086-7737457/071-9141887