Celebrities like Brian O’Driscoll, Bernard Brogan and Conor McGregor supported the ‘Belvo Boys’ Annual Sleep-Out and Fast over three days and two nights from December 22 – 24, 2015. Current and former students were stationed with their sleeping bags and money buckets at the Bank of Ireland on College Green and at the GPO. Many passersby contributed generously in the midst of their Christmas shopping with more than €190,000 raised.
Brian Egan is a sixth year student at Belvedere College SJ who was PR Representative and an active participant at the GPO. He tells Jesuit.ie: ‘I collected until 3 or 4am each day, grabbed a couple hours of sleep and then stayed awake for the other full days.’ However, he learned that these outdoor circumstances were nothing compared to the harsh reality of the homeless who are constantly on the streets next to him. ‘The homeless community were also the most generous. I remember one guy who literally emptied his pockets and put all his money into my bucket, I couldn’t believe my eyes.’
Two of the three charities who benefit from Belvedere’s efforts are Jesuit-inspired: the Peter McVerry Trust, which has emerged out of Fr Peter McVerry work with homeless boys, and Home Again, inspired by the late Michael Sweetman SJ. The third charity is Sister Stan’s Focus Ireland.
Fr. McVerry wants the right to a home to be included in the constitution as one of five basic human rights: ‘The right to a home is the most basic of all because without a suitable home, people will not be able to eat properly, their health will deteriorate and they will find it almost impossible to access education, training or employment.’ Fr. John K. Guiney SJ, director of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, shares Peter’s vision: “I see the current situation in Ireland as an opportunity for three of our marginalised groups to join forces: the homeless community, asylum seekers in Direct Provision Centres, and refugees.”
Brian Egan was also delighted with the success of the #Sleepoutselfie competition: “This initiative really caught on, it encouraged the general public to post selfies with #Sleepout15 signs onto Facebook, the winners were announced on 23 December.” Brian also points out, “This year was the first year where we received corporate donations such as from Computershare and FBD.”