Sports

GAA stars to give Voice to homeless

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

GAA stars to give Voice to homeless thumbnailRoss Carr

DOWN legend and two-time All-Ireland winner Ross Carr insists that if only one person or family benefits from the Gaelic Voices For Change Sleep Out on Saturday, then it will be worth it.

But he feels this is only the start of an ever-growing movement demanding change and help for homeless.

Car is among the list of Armagh and Down sporting stars giving their support to Gaelic for Voices, to raise funds and awareness on homelessness in Ireland.

Armagh's All-Ireland winner Justin McNulty, Armagh Ladies stars Marian McGuinness, Sharon Reel and Caroline O'Hanlon, Armagh camogie star Colletee McSorley as well as Armagh Ladies chairperson Sinead Reel will join Carr in a sleep out in Belfast on Saturday (December 16).

"We are part of a voluntary run social action movement of current and former inter county GAA players, both men and women from across all codes involving all 32 counties in Ireland, said Sinead Reel.

"Gaelic Voices For Change has been set up by Diarmaid Lyng of Wexford and Ruairi McKernan from Cavan and they have asked for the GAA community to help those in a less fortunate position, and feel that after communities and families supporting players from club levels through to county, this is our chance to give back."

Gaelic Voices For Change are planning to hold a solidarity sleep out in 11 cities and towns, including Belfast and Dublin. The Sleep out will include guest speakers, music and the GAA stars will also be distributing food, tea and coffee to the homeless on the night. The charities to benefit will be The Simon Community, Vincent De Paul and the Welcome Centre Belfast. 

There is a an online fundraising campaign with over €50,000 raised so far, you can donate online at gaelicvoicesforchange.com, each participant has their own fundraising page and they can be found on Facebook and twitter, and the GAA stars are also accepting donations to give directly to the homeless on the night, sleeping bags, anyone with new track bottoms, hoodies, underwear, along with shaving foam, razors and toiletries.

"I have got involved as I feel very lucky to have a great family support network and there are those out there who are not as fortunate as myself, this is my way of helping those who have found themselves in a crisis of homelessness," said Reel

"I expect it to be very cold on the night and we will be out on the streets from 6pm to 6am.

"Our main aim is to create awareness of the ever growing issue of homelessness in our country both north and south, the homeless crisis is increasing rapidly and this is our way of trying to help.

"We know there is only so much we can do and we do not have all the answers, but we want to help in any way we can."

Clonduff's Ross Carr said he felt that he had to do something and hopes by keeping homelessness in the public consciousness then it will lead to a demand for change.

"Obviously it is a social issue much greater than people are aware of or wish to pay any attention to and it has reached chronic proportions in most of the cities and towns throughout the country," said Carr.

"It has taken on a life of its own and it is incredible the amount of players and former players that have got involved. Whether we can do anything financially it will probably only be the tip of the iceberg but it really is to raise awareness of issues that a happening all over the country.

"And it is probably not just those we associate with poverty and depravation. It can happen to anybody and it happens to families throughout all the classes. If we can make one life better then it will be a success."

Carr admits his contact with the homeless has been limited, much like most people reading this, but he feels privileged to being heavily involved in GAA life and in a position to help. And he also feels the stalemate at Stormont is allowing the problem of homelessness to go unaddressed.

"Gaelic has been very good to me and my family and when I take a look at some of the victims, it really is a wakeup call that we either consciously don't know about the extent of the problem or as in a lot of cases in all walks of life, when it isn't your problem, you don't let it affect you," Carr said.

"I don't have any experience of it and I am not aware of anyone I know that was a victim of homelessness, but doesn't mean that I can't help or that others can help those that are homeless.

"Because we don't have a government it is even harder to put structures in place to try and eradicate some of the issues lead to homelessness and help those that need help. People of Northern Ireland are being denied."

Carr warned though that the sit out won't simply become a novelty (remember the ice bucket challenge?), or something that pricks the consciousness around in cosy homes over Christmas and he believes that Gaelic Voices For Change has too much momentum behind them to let homeless slip off the news agenda.

"I don't know where this is going to go, or 100 per cent sure that anyone knows where this can go, but it can't be just a night where a group of 50 or 60 people who have a good life, tick a box in their consciousness so we can say to ourselves that we have done something," Carr said.

"There has to be a movement begun and there needs to momentum to develop a process that helps make change some of the serious social issue that exist for people throughout the county."

If you want to help, then go to the relevant Gaelic Voices for Change fundraising page.

 

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