Santa stop here: homeless families to receive magic fireplaces

Focus Ireland makes urgent appeal for Christmas donations as demand for services rise

Focus Ireland is helping Santa to find children who are homeless this Christmas using Santa’s magical fireplaces. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Magical fireplaces are being sent out to families across Ireland to make sure Santa can visit all children this Christmas, including those living in emergency accommodation.

Focus Ireland has announced that more than 200 families who are currently homeless will receive a miniature fireplace this year so that Father Christmas can find them.

Children will be instructed to sprinkle magical dust on these miniature fireplaces before they go to bed on Christmas Eve so that the hearth can grow large enough to accommodate Santa’s arrival.

Roisin McDonnell from Focus Ireland said the charity was aware that some children were worried about how Santa would find them when there is no fireplace in their emergency accommodation.


“That’s when we came up with the idea to give the families a magical fireplace and to take that worry away from them. We are working hard to ensure that every family that we are supporting will have some positive memories this Christmas.”

All families will receive a package with a miniature replica of a fireplace, magic dust and an illustrated story book which explains how Santa’s elves created the magical fireplaces to make sure all children, even those who do not have a fireplace in their home, receive their gifts on Christmas day.

‘So sad’

Ms Mc Donnell said that many families would be stuck in one room this Christmas without a kitchen where they can cook a meal or an area for the kids to play. “It is so sad to think that some children born into homelessness this year will be spending their first ever Christmas in this world as homeless. That is wrong and needs to change. It should not happen,” she said.

“This is a vital time of year for us in terms of raising money and we would really encourage people who are able to donate to please support our work so we can continue to be there when people need us most.”

Fiona and her children are just one of the families who will celebrate Christmas in emergency accommodation this year. “Sometimes I lie awake at night and I can’t cope,” Fiona recently wrote in a letter describing her family’s daily life while homeless. “I can’t believe we are still in this situation.

“Monday to Friday we get up and my husband goes to work and I drop the kids to school. We have to get two buses. It is hard on the kids. They miss their friends. They miss their swing in the garden.”

Nearly 10,000 people will celebrate Christmas homeless this year, of whom 3,725 are children living in hotels or homeless hubs.

Focus Ireland says it has assisted about 15,000 people who are homeless or at risk of losing their home in the first 11 months of the year, up from 13,500 in the same period in 2017.

The charity provides services across the State including in Cork, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford. It has made an urgent Christmas appeal for donations so it can cope with the constant rise in demand for its services.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast