By Lydia O’Kane
For over 40 years, this beacon of hope has been there for people in need and now provides over 700 meals each day and over 1500 food parcels each Wednesday to the homeless and poor of Dublin.
“The most important thing for us is that we make sure that everybody is treated with dignity and respect”, says Br Kevin who adds that the situation for many people this Christmas is extremely difficult.
“So far we have given out over 2,700 tickets for food parcels… that is about the same as last year, but then as well as that we have noticed that a number of people are being sent on to us from various social workers, so that it seems that the situation seems to be worse again this year”.
The people who come to the Capuchin Day Centre have their own stories to tell about the journey that has brought them to seek help. Br Kevin recounts the story of a child who was being put up in a one bedroom hotel room with his family, who said to him, “ I wonder will Santa be able to come to us at all this year and will he even know where we are”.
The Capuchin Friar notes that Christmas can be a very sad and lonely time of year for people who have lost their homes and lost their families and that even Christmas songs can be painful reminders.
He also stresses that “every person is entitled to have a home” and adds that, at present not enough is being done to provide families in Dublin with affordable housing.
Br Kevin hopes that at least over Christmas no one will have to sleep on the streets. The staff and volunteers at the Capuchin Day Centre, he says will be on hand to make sure that all those who come down to their city centre location will be made to feel welcome and shown kindness. “We try to be, I suppose in the spirit of Saint Francis, to be a family to these people and to help these people, maybe who have nowhere to go other than to come down to us during the Christmas period”.