Enough homeless beds to meet demand, says DRHE, as temperatures set to drop to -6

Met Éireann forecasters say snow, sleet and frost expected

The Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) has said it expects there will be enough emergency accommodation beds in the capital to meet demand this week as temperatures are forecast to drop to -6 degrees.

Met Éireann has issued a weather advisory until December 12th, with “very cold” weather likely to lead to “sharp to severe frosts and icy stretches on roads”.

“Showers of hail, sleet, and snow will occur during the second half of the week. Updates with potential warnings will be issued in the coming days,” the advisory states.

Evelyn Cusack, head of forecasting at Met Éireann, said it would be bitterly cold this week with hail, sleet and snow in the northwest forecast for Wednesday night.

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An air mass from the Arctic will bring the cold weather which is a “real reverse” and will come as a “big shock” when compared to the very mild November temperatures, she told Newstalk Breakfast.

The worst of the weather will hit on Wednesday night and the low temperatures will continue through the weekend with temperatures as low as minus five and -6 degrees.

While the highest risk of snow is in Donegal there could be snow showers at any time over the remainder of the country, Ms Cusack said.

Mary Hayes, director of the DRHE, said the executive activated its cold weather strategy, and there “will be a bed for everyone who wants one”.

Ms Hayes said workers in Dublin Simon are out on the streets every day who will help alert homeless individuals that there are beds available for them.

“Anywhere within that region, if a member of the public spots someone and is worried about someone rough sleeping they can pin the location, and our partner service Dublin Simon will be out to them in an hour, and we will have emergency accommodation available,” she said.

Ms Hayes added that the DRHE will meet with organisations who provide services to homeless people on Monday in a bid to put plans in place.

Meanwhile, groups such as Street Angels in Cork are distributing sleeping pods, socks, jumpers, hats and gloves in order to help protect people homeless people against dangerous weather conditions.

Hazel Dennehy, CEO of Street Angels, who set up the charity in 2019 when she lost a friend to homelessness, previously distributed special sleeping pods to those sleeping rough in Cork city last year. The narrow zip up pods are made from insulating and waterproof materials. They are very light and can be carried away on the person’s back.

Ms Dennehy, who runs the not-for-profit organisation alongside her retired husband Michael, says that she is very worried about the homeless given the sudden change in weather.

Hazel and 24 other volunteers serve donated hot food such as roast dinners to the homeless. In June or July of this year she was feeding about 80 people every Monday night. Now the numbers have risen to about 125 to 130 a week.

“We are lucky in Cork because different groups (are out feeding the homeless) seven nights a week and we also have (people like) Caitriona Twomey in (soup kitchen) Cork Penny Dinners.”

Cork Simon Community is also getting ready to assist the homeless following the drop in temperatures. Communications manager Paul Sheehan said that they will finalise their plans tomorrow. However, as it stands new supports will be put in place for however long the particularly cold weather continues.

Meanwhile, Fiona O’Rourke, Development Support Worker with Friendly Call in Cork, whose volunteers ring several hundred elderly people a day to check in on their welfare said that they have noticed a great deal of discussion about fuel costs particularly as the weather turns increasingly cold.

“A lot of (elderly) people are concerned about their bills. They are talking about the fuel allowance a lot. It is enough for some people but for others it isn’t, and it (fuel cost) is eating in to their other finances.

The Friendly Call service links in with the local authority and Age Action to reach out to those in need. They help source maintenance workers or link them up with public health nurses or other services.

Ms O’Rourke said in addition to concerns about dropping temperatures they also have vulnerable clients who need their electricity going around the clock to pay for machines which assist their health.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a media monitor and reporter