Shine a Light 2017 – Raising Awareness of Child Homelessness
On the 13th October 2017, Jason Murphy and Matthew Reast from Centrus Advisors in Dublin participated in the ‘Shine A Light’ fundraising event in aid of Focus Ireland. Focus Ireland are a non-profit organisation based in Dublin that provide homeless services to the people of Ireland. Presently, homelessness is a significant issue in this country which requires more attention, action and strategic ideas to resolve.
Family homelessness has reached historic proportions with 3,000 children, sometimes forgotten by society, currently living in emergency accommodation in Ireland, often unable to get to school and rarely getting a home cooked meal. Such conditions can contribute negatively to the individual which can result in a long-term impact on their lives.
The aim of ‘Shine a Light’ Night is to bring the business community together for one night to raise awareness and crucial funds and to stand in solidarity and ‘shine a light’ on those experiencing homelessness in Ireland today. The venue for this fundraising event was Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin, rain fell in buckets and participants settled in for the night equipped with pieces of cardboard and sleeping bags. Jason and Matthew share their thoughts on this extremely moving experience.
My key motivation when beginning my Shine a Light journey was to help children who are homeless. Through my work I already work with a number of housing charities where we provide advice and assistance on treasury and other financial strategy matters. Hence, I do have good knowledge of the housing sector and the issues being faced by all stakeholders. For me, my participation was not just about raising funds but more importantly it was about bringing attention to business leaders in our community that there is a serious issue which needs to be addressed. I mentioned in my story that every child should be able to come home and put down their schoolbag in the security of knowing they can put it down in the same place tomorrow. For many children (almost 3000 in Ireland today) this is not the case. I am so grateful to all those who have donated to our campaign helping us exceed our target and also to all those who have engaged with us on the journey. I hope I have inspired others to either take part or ask the question “how can we help?”. It was a very humbling experience to sleep out and gave me a better understanding of the practical issues. I plan to continue to do the sleep-out every year until I see a material resolution of the child homelessness issue in our country.
“I was delighted to be given the opportunity to take part in the Focus Ireland Shine a Light sleep out. I thought that it would be a minor challenge and would generally be a bit of fun. Although, as the event approached the sight of the homelessness crisis that we see on our streets each day the enormity of sleeping outside changed my attitude completely to the harsh realities of life. My intention was to raise awareness of the homelessness issue in Ireland, and I have been truly humbled by the support provided by friends, family, colleagues and other donors. Throughout the evening Focus Ireland outlined the phenomenal work that they undertake, and allowed us to take stock of how fortunate we are in our own lives. I went home exhausted, though very grateful of having a comfortable bed to sleep in, radiators, a shower, washing machines, a roof to shelter from the rain and four walls to keep out the winter ahead. This was a test of mental endurance and dealing with our environment, I would strongly encourage anybody to take that one evening out to undertake this experience and to be thankful that it is just one night.”
Jason and Matthew set themselves a target of €10,000 to raise for the event. They exceeded this and €10,465.87 was raised for Focus Ireland. Collectively, all participants in the event raised €730,181. All that was asked of these willing individuals was to ‘give one night to change a lifetime’. This one night gave Jason and Matthew an opportunity to help. Hopefully, by sharing their experiences they will have informed others of how much we need to help organisations like Focus Ireland.
We look forward to taking part in ‘Shine A Light’ 2018 and we would encourage other business leaders to do so until this issue for our country is materially resolved! Huge thanks to everyone who donated, including Centrus Communities for the support to bring us above our target. Every euro makes a difference and your contributions were really appreciated!! Focus Ireland are still taking donations from this event if you wish to help us even further!!!