Homeless services taking steps to ensure nobody is forgotten during Arctic blast

Homeless services taking steps to ensure nobody is forgotten during Arctic blast
Sand and salt on the on the Nano Nagle footbridge on the Grand Parade, Cork, in preparation for the very cold weather. Picture Dan Linehan

Special efforts are being put in place to protect the vulnerable as bitingly cold weather hits Cork.

Up to 8 inches of snow is expected to hit Cork this week, with the big chill set to hit tonight. Snowfalls and blizzard-like conditions are expected by Thursday, with warnings that temperatures could feel as low as -13C.

There are status yellow and orange warnings in place, with Met Éireann warning that these could be increased to status red as the conditions worsen.

The forecast has prompted concern for the most vulnerable in society, with homeless service providers taking steps to ensure that nobody is left without a bed.

Paul Sheehan of Cork Simon said they were tasked by the City Council to find extra beds.

“We have a winter night shelter in place since November 1 as part of the Winter Initiative and those beds are still in place.

“There are spaces in our day centre and we are looking at increasing the capacity there. We are also looking at our five high-support houses to try and identify extra capacity there, putting mattresses in the living spaces.

“Our outreach team will be working with anyone who is sleeping rough, particularly those whom, for a variety of reasons, have a difficulty in coming in and we will be encouraging them to do so."

Cork Simon asked members of the public to contact them about anyone they see bedding down outdoors: “We usually know where people are but there is always a chance that we don’t so please do let us know.” 

Members of Cork City Council commended the steps being taken and urged the city to do as much as possible to spread the word of the deteriorating conditions.

Sinn Féin councillor Henry Cremin said, "There are specific locations in this city where people are living in tents. They have no access to mobile phones and may not be aware of the weather that has been forecast. Whatever blankets or sleeping bags they may have; if the temperatures drop as low as we expect, they will not survive."

His colleague Chris O'Leary pointed to several locations around the city where this is the case.

"The concern is those who are not presenting themselves to homeless shelters," he said.

"We need to make sure that nobody is forgotten."

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