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Architects Sleep Rough for Simon Community

Published: Friday, April 20, 2012

On the night from 19 to 20  April 2012, RIAI architects and staff were sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin in order to raise awareness for homelessness and the RIAI Simon Open Door Campaign. The group was sleeping outside South Kings Street, Dublin 2, from 9pm till 8am. Just before midnight, Dublin Lord Mayor, Andrew Montague visited to express his support of the initiative:  “It is not very often that one sees professionals on a sit-out”, said the Lord Mayor and stressed that “everybody has a right to a space that they can call home and that is why I am lending my support on behalf of the people of Dublin to the Simon Community tonight”.

Architect Derek Trenamanwho has given his time on many occasions for the Simon Open Door consultations, said that sleeping rough has made him aware for whom he was doing the consultations for.  “I’m hoping to better understand the homelessness problem”, echoed Adrian Hill.  Doug Carson hoped to raise the profile for homeless people and noticed that many members of the public did not want to engage – “already we are noticing who is stopping and who is not”. All of the participants hoped that their sleep-out would create more awareness of the problem of homelessness in Ireland.

With close to 5,000 people sleeping rough across the country every night, the services of Simon and other charities can be rather stretched.  Patrick Quinn of the Simon Communities, who stayed with the group all night, explained that the majority of homeless people have physical and mental health problems: “If you live in a doorway, your health can spiral down very quickly.  Even people without an addiction problem can develop one in a matter of days”, said Quinn. “If you feel desperately low you will take anything to make you feel better.” The charity provides the Dublin Simon Soup Run to the homeless community, which started in 1969 out of Trinity College.  They also run shelters, including wet hostels, where residents can bring alcohol.  “We teach life skills such as how to care for yourself for those in transition from homelessness” explained Quinn. He added that the biggest issue facing homeless people is one of confidence, which gets eroded very quickly on the streets. 

Throughout the sleep-out, homeless people engaged with the group of architects and RIAI staff and expressed their appreciation for bringing awareness to their plight as well as sharing tips of how to stay warm.  Most of the architects expressed some nervousness about their night on the streets but all agreed that it would give them a valuable insight into what many homeless people experience on a daily basis. “We’re not the brave ones”, said architect Peter Pearson-Evans, “it must take a lot of courage to be sleeping by yourself in a doorway”. 

Participating in the Sleep-Out were RIAI architects Dermot Bannon, Douglas Carson, Adrian Hill, Claire Hyland, David McGeown, Paul O’Neill, Peter Pearson Evans, David Shannon, Derek Trenaman; Kathryn Meghen and Margaret O’Flanagan from the RIAI, and Patrick Quinn from Simon.

Book a one-hour consultation with an architect for a €50 donation to the Simon Communities of Ireland. This year’s Open Door days are on May 12th and 13th. See www.simonopendoor.ie to book



Categories: Architecture

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