Pizza club for Dublin’s homeless appeals for volunteers

Two friends create club to break down social barriers, while helping the homeless

A pizza club for Dublin’s homeless which began more than a year ago is appealing for more volunteers to help.

The Sunday Pizza Club, the brain child of IT consultant Cormac Noonan (25) and his friend Martin Connolly (27), has become a regular weekend feature among Dublin's homeless. It meets at 8.30pm on Sundays on Grafton Street and volunteers feed the needy with pizza and share a chat.

Having become so disenchanted with passing the capital’s growing homeless community each day, Mr Noonan decided to take matters into his own hands.

He said that each morning as he walked to work, he used to pass a homeless man, to whom he would give some spare change.

“The Sunday Pizza Club was born out of my frustration of the growing level of the amount of people who are homeless in our city. I passed this man each morning on my way to work and I just felt that there was more I could be doing,” he said. “I realised with the man I used to help that if I continued to give him money, he would still be there on the side of the street a year later.”

He said he and Mr Connolly decided in December 2015 to give the annual 12 pubs of Christmas a miss and instead use the money to buy pizzas. “We walked around the city centre giving out the pizza and talking to the homeless community,” he said, adding that the idea to hold a pizza club came from this “inspirational” first meeting.

“We realised that so many people had genuine stories that didn’t relate to alcohol and drugs and it really shocked me. We did this a few more times and then in April 2016, we set up our own little stand on Grafton Street and we soon had a lot of the people we had come to know coming to us.

Social barriers “We encouraged other members of the public to come

and join us to break down the social barriers and we added in some musicians and soon enough the Sunday Pizza Club was born. It’s just an atmosphere that can break down the social barriers. Lots of people just pass by homeless people on the street each day and this can be so demoralising.”

The most recent figures show there are now 1,256 families and 2,563 children homeless across Ireland. The number of families homeless increased by 32 per cent between March 2016 and last March.

With the help of Domino's Pizza in Rathmines and Apache Pizza in Temple Bar, the Sunday party continues to grow.

“At the start we used to buy the pizzas ourselves but then we contacted Domino’s, who agreed to give us 15 pizzas a week but as the crowds grew so did the appetite. We then approached Apache who have given us a further 20,” said Mr Noonan.

“We aren’t looking for any glory here, we are two average guys just trying to help out and we would encourage anyone who has some free time on Sundays to come down and help us out.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of demonstrators and homelessness activist groups marched through Dublin city centre on Saturday afternoon.

The march was organised by the charity Inner City Helping Homeless to call for a review of emergency accommodation services.