Sodexo Ireland has entered into a new partnership with Focus Ireland by providing €150,000 for the housing and homelessness charity’s new purpose-built Family Centre in Dublin.

The Family Centre will welcome its first families during Christmas week, and the full-service provision will open in early 2020.

This is the first corporate donation received by the centre, and the funds will be provided over three years via Sodexo’s Stop Hunger global initiative and employee fundraising activities in Ireland.

Sodexo’s funding is a continuation of its support of the Focus Ireland coffee shop, from where the need for a purpose-built Family Centre evolved as the charity identified the lack of specific services for families who are homeless.

Julie Ennis, country president, Sodexo Ireland, said: “Sodexo’s Stop Hunger is a global initiative that has made women empowerment one of its priorities. Sodexo Ireland has been partnering with Focus Ireland for several years and we have seen the positive impact of the work they do. We are very proud to give our financial support for this much needed Family Centre, which will support the most vulnerable families experiencing homelessness.“

The Focus Ireland Family Centre is part of the charity’s response to the deepening homelessness crisis. The number of families homeless in Dublin has shot up by 314% in the last five years, from a total of 307 in October 2014 to 1270 this October. Focus Ireland supports over 600 families who are homeless in Dublin and the new centre will help the most vulnerable families – some of whom only have access to emergency accommodation on a night by night basis.

The Family Centre will provide a space where children can be looked after while their parents receive support from Focus Ireland staff. This service will work to support the needs of families who are homeless and help to find them a home as quickly as possible.

The family centre will bring together in one location: case management, key worker, child support workers, child care, catering and will provide the daily needs of a family such as warm nutritious meals, a safe space to sit together to eat them, laundry facilities and uniquely, a child care drop in service where parents can work with case managers, receive the help and support they need while their child is in a safe, secure and bespoke built area for them.

Pat Dennigan, CEO of Focus Ireland, said: “Focus Ireland has not yet has received any State funding for the family centre so this is why the amazing support by Sodexo is so vital to help us carry out this work to help protect families and their children from the trauma of homelessness. Being homeless hurts children the most. That is why there will be specially trained Focus Ireland child support workers based in the centre to help protect children from damage caused by being homeless. We need all the donations and support at this time of year to make sure we are there when people need our help.”

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