Thursday, December 28, 2023

Dublin homeless café ‘had to turn people away’ due to huge demand

A Dublin café catering for the homeless and those in need had to briefly close its doors on a day before Christmas due to the huge demand for a hot meal.

The Lighthouse café on Pearse Street in Dublin city centre, offers essentials for those experiencing homelessness and food poverty and aspires to be a “living room to those who need it”.

The café, run by Tiglin Ireland, has been bustling with people over the festive period. Those in need pop in for grocery supplies, a hot meal, music events, or just some companionship.

“We used to feed 80 a day and we thought we were busy. At the moment, we’re feeding anywhere between 400 and 500,” Aubrey McCarthy, Chairman at Tiglin Ireland, said.

“One day last week in the lead up to Christmas, we had to close the doors because we just couldn’t take any more, which was the first time ever we’ve had to turn away people.”

Tiglin has said this influx comes “as a result of the single asylum seekers who are referred to our service and who are no longer accommodated by the International Protection Office”.

Mr McCarthy also told the Irish Independent that, along with Irish users, he has a lot of people coming from different countries such as Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria and much more.

The café itself acts as a frontline service providing hot meals and essentials to those who need them. The only days the space is closed are on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

The service also offers one-on-one support, which channels people to other services such as drug rehabilitation, recovery, counselling, and housing.

At the moment, Tiglin has over 200 people in its care, and many of those begin that journey by visiting the Lighthouse café.

Twins Allen and Jay Bobinac (26) arrived in Ireland from Croatia in 2016 and were sleeping rough in the Phoenix Park before coming across Tiglin and its services.

Allen now runs the Lighthouse café, and Jay works in the communications department for Tiglin.

“I’m an example of someone who came through the system, like hundreds or perhaps thousands of others who have too,” Jay said.

“Many of these people are now very successful members of society. Me and my brother have now been able to do masters degrees because of this service, and without it, we never would have had that opportunity for education.”

Since coming under the management of Allen, the Lighthouse café has become even more vibrant with events on nearly every night of the week.

People can have a coffee, enjoy songs with the local choir, performances from the Don Baker Band, a proper Christmas dinner, a barber for people in need of haircuts, movie nights and bingo.

“It’s a really special place if you’re homeless or want a place to sit down and enjoy for a couple of hours,” Jay added.