• 14 Apr 2020

RIAI Registered Architects take annual fundraiser online to support Simon Communities through COVID-19 crisis









Dermot Bannon Launches RIAI Simon Open Door 2020. Photo by Verona McQuaid.

14 April 2020: The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and the Simon Communities are once again joining forces to launch the annual RIAI Simon Open Door campaign. This year, however, they’re taking the initiative online due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Now in its 16th year, the campaign sees registered architects all around Ireland offer their expertise to members of the public in exchange for a donation of €95 to Simon Communities. Previously, this was conducted via an hour-long face-to-face consultation about building, rebuilding or renovating homes. In order to continue supporting Simon Communities while maintaining social distancing requirements, the consultations will this year be held virtually via video calls.

One of Ireland’s best-known architects, Dermot Bannon MRIAI, helped launch this year’s virtual campaign with a short video, in which he explains how people can get involved for a vital cause. It can be viewed at this link

Commenting on this year’s virtual campaign, Ciaran O’Connor, RIAI President said: “Our members are proud to partner with Simon Communities across Ireland every year to support its fantastic work. Now more than ever, registered architects in every county are keen to support both the charity and people in their own local communities and this is a very positive way to do that. I would like to sincerely thank those who have already signed up to give their time and expertise. I would also appeal to members of the public who are looking for a way to contribute something positive at this difficult time to consider booking a slot, either for personal use or even as a gift for a loved one, and help Simon Communities to provide vital services during this time.”

Karen Golden, Chair of the Simon Communities of Ireland said: “COVID-19 poses very serious challenges to people who are homeless and we sincerely appreciate this kind of support, which means we can continue to provide the strongest possible service during this crisis. We are doing all we can to keep our vital services open and it is crucial that a spotlight is kept on protecting people who are currently experiencing or who are at risk of homelessness. They are among the most vulnerable people in our society at what is a very challenging time for us all.”

RIAI Simon Open Door runs from Tuesday, 5 May until Friday, 15 May and all funds raised go directly to Simon Communities across Ireland to support their work in tackling homelessness through the current crisis and beyond. Registration for the event is now open and people are encouraged to book a slot with an RIAI-registered architect in their local area by visiting www.simonopendoor.ie

Examples of Simon Communities response to COVID-19

  • Identifying and creating isolation spaces in our services, to ensure residents have space to self-isolate if needed.
  • Working with our frontline teams to improve access to PPE and implementing even more stringent cleaning and hygiene protocols.
  • Supporting hospitals in the Dublin area by providing ‘Step Down’ beds for people experiencing homelessness who are currently in hospital and now need less acute medical attention.

Impact of the RIAI Simon Open Door campaign

The generous support of the public and architects through the RIAI Simon Open Door campaign will help Simon Communities to continue their vital work on the frontline during this challenging time. This includes helping to fund essential medical and sanitising supplies as well as life-saving personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and goggles to ensure our trained teams can continue to care for residents in their services who are presenting with symptoms of COVID-19.

Please feel free to spread the word about the RIAI Simon Open Door campaign by using the hashtag #RIAIsimon


For media interviews, images or further information, please contact:

Anna Kilpatrick, Drury Porter Novelli – anna.kilpatrick@drurypn.ie / 087 692 9458

Maire McGrath, Drury Porter Novelli - maire.mcgrath@drurypn.ie / 085 265 9047

Fiona O’Connor, Drury Porter Novelli – fiona.oconnor@drurypn.ie / 087 694 9601

Notes for the editor:

About the RIAI

Since 1839, the RIAI has been the professional body for architects working and practicing in Ireland.  The RIAI provides support and information services to its 3,100 members in all categories.  The RIAI engages with Government, the professions, industry, clients and the public to promote the value of quality in architecture to deliver attractive and sustainable built environments, to enrich Ireland’s distinctive culture and heritage, to contribute to the Irish economy and to improve the quality of life for the people of Ireland for generations to come. For more information, please visit www.riai.ie

About Simon Communities

The Simon Communities support over 16,700 men, women and children. It has 50 years’ experience providing homeless, housing and treatment services to people facing the trauma and stress of homelessness. It is a network of independent communities based in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid West, the North West and the South East, responding to local needs and supported by a National Office in the areas of policy, research, communications and best practice. Simon Communities share a common ethos and values in tackling homelessness and, informed by its grassroots services, it campaigns for more effective policies and legislation regionally, nationally and at European level. Whatever the issue, Simon’s door is always open for as long as it is needed. For more information, please visit www.simon.ie