I first met Brian McLoughlin and Anthony Flynn in 2017. Child homelessness had peaked and the My Name is campaign to raise awareness was born.
The campaign, set up to change the lives of others, also changed mine in ways I could never imagine.
The dedication of all involved in the campaign was infectious and, in 2019, I moved to the Inner City Helping Homeless Fundraising Team, and from there progressed to going out late at night with the outreach teams.
You don’t forget the service users you meet and the stories they entrust you with. You don’t forget the woman that hugged you, the confidences they share. The jarring contrast of people spilling out of posh nightclubs versus the people in doorways who wait for our teams every night for tea and a chat. We visit the Garda stations too and hand out sandwich bags and cups of tea.
2019 and 2020 were bad years for me on a personal level. Finding myself at a loose end for a few months, in December of 2019 I made contact with Ann Birney, the volunteer co-ordinator, and presented at the office to make sandwiches and anything else that needed doing around the office. I got to know the day volunteers and in doing so I found a family. I am proud, so proud, to volunteer with an organisation that turns nobody away, and that philosophy extends to their own volunteers.
I would say to anyone thinking of getting involved, just bite the bullet and do it. In making a difference to other people’s lives, you may find that you make a difference to your own too.