Cork Penny Dinners now staying open at night

Cork Penny Dinners now staying open at night
Catriona Twomey, of Cork Penny Dinners on Little Hanover Street. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

CORK Penny Dinners, which serves up 2,000 hot meals a week to the needy, is now staying open at night to allow people to sleep at the centre.

Catriona Twomey, who runs the food charity, said they were staying open seven nights a week amid fears that people will die on the streets.

Ms Twomey said the charity lost two regular visitors to homelessness last year, including one man who froze to death on the streets.

The practice of opening the food charity at night has been ongoing for the past six-to-seven weeks.

A small cohort of homeless people are staying at the centre on a nightly basis.

Ms Twomey said that all the people who are staying at Cork Penny Dinners are engaged with Alcohol Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) to address addictions issues and are afraid of staying in an environment where drug and alcohol abuse is ongoing.

She said progress has been made helping people with addiction problems while also providing a warm place to sleep at night. “It is well staffed, well managed and everyone knows if they want to get a decent night’s sleep then they have to toe the line and be respectful to others,” she said.

A representative from Narcotics Anonymous drops in on a Tuesday night to offer encouragement and support to the people staying at the centre. The doors open in the evening at 7pm and Ms Twomey said that by 11.45pm, after a hot meal and with the heating on, everyone is asleep.

Penny Dinners is one of the oldest charities in Cork and has seen demand for its service grow exponentially over the last decade.

The economic recession forced the charity to raise more awareness of its work to ensure people had a place to go for a hot meal.

The number of meals served at the charity increased from around 150 per week before the recession to more than 2,000 in recent times.

Last week, the charity won the Irish Food Writers Guild Community Food Award for the work they do in the community.

Ms Twomey, who accepted the award on behalf of all the volunteers, said she was delighted to receive the framed certificate and it would be hung in pride of place at Cork Penny Dinners.

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