Tallaght soup kitchen feeding up to 60 every night

By Mary Dennehy

A COMMUNITY-led soup kitchen in Tallaght is feeding around 60 homeless people four nights a week, including parents and children who are going hungry and under nourished in hotel rooms due to a lack of cooking facilities.

Established by residents, VISIT has, for nearly two years, been providing meals, sleeping bags, warm clothes, support and friendship to Tallaght’s homeless at its base in the carpark of St Mary’s Priory every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Nicola Moore August 2016
Nicola Moore - VISIT

However, over recent months, volunteers noticed an increase in the number of parents and children attending the soup kitchen – an increase that resulted in VISIT expanding its services and providing a second soup kitchen for hungry families living in hotels.

Nicola Moore, volunteer with VISIT, told The Echo: “We are now feeding around 60 to 70 people four nights a week across our two bases in Tallaght.

“It’s absolutely shocking that so many people are going hungry and, on Tuesday, more than 25 people who are in emergency accommodation in one local hotel came to us for food.

“Hotels are not suitable for families, especially young children – who are cooped up in one room with no structure, routine, space or play area.

“Families also cannot cook in the hotel rooms so are forced to eat out or get takeaways, which is a massive financial burden and families are running out of money to feed themselves properly.

“Concerns around the food being eating by families living in hotels has been raised already, but no one is listening.”

She added: “VISIT is currently under huge pressure and we’re wondering where we’re going to get the food to feed 60 to 70 people a night.

“However, we’re so grateful to all of our volunteers, members of the community and local businesses who are helping us to feed all of these people.”

Sarah Murphy has been living in a local hotel with her six-year-old twin daughters for the past three months and recently started visiting the soup kitchen.

Sarah Murphy August 2016
Sarah Murphy

“There are days that my children would go hungry if it wasn’t for the soup kitchen”, Sarah told The Echo.
“Day-to-day living in one room in a hotel is very hard and it costs us a lot of money to feed ourselves because we have to eat out or buy convenient food.

“Not only is this really expensive but it’s not healthy for my children, there is no nutrition in it.

“The hotel does its best and provides a continental breakfast and a dinner of chips and sausages or chips and nuggets between 4.30pm and 5.30pm each day.

“However, it’s not always possible to make it back to the hotel for that time with school runs, after-school activities, viewings or just trying to get the kids out of the hotel room for some air – and if you miss it, there’s no option to get it later.”

She added: “VISIT however, has made a huge difference and I can’t thank them enough for providing us with home-cooked meals.

“They really have been a great help – lots of families would be in a much worse-off place without them.”

VISIT is appealing to members of the community who are in a position to donate toys, game consoles, colouring books or puzzles to get in touch.

The voluntary group is also appealing for food products such as fruit, cereal, pot noodles, non-perishables, toiletries, nappies and wipes. Anybody who can donate vegetables or meat for VISIT to make home-cooked meals for families is also asked to get in touch.

In June more than 110 families were living across hotels and B&Bs in South Dublin County.

For further details: like the Visit Facebook page, or call Nicola on 087 3679223.

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