In Dublin, Ireland, there is a tremendous housing crisis. In fact, this problem has resulted in more than 10,000 people living on the streets and it’s the highest rate of homelessness that Dublin has ever experienced. There are a great number of individuals in the homeless population living in tents. This problem is impacting people of all ages.
As this crisis continues to expand, housing charities struggle to meet the needs of so many people. Despite the fact that there are nearly 1,500 organizations with a mission to tackle social issues, a solution to this issue has been elusive in the past. Fortunately, there are some social enterprises that have chosen to think outside the box to address this problem.
Social Organizations That Make a Difference
An organization called My Streets Ireland chose to get creative to find a solution. Part of their mission is to equip homeless people with skills that can help them generate income. It’s why they came up with the ingenious idea of preparing the homeless population to provide tours in Dublin. This endeavor has been well received, especially by individuals grappling with homelessness. Program administrators recognize the limited opportunities available to the homeless population and wanted to find a real solution.
When living on the streets, it’s easy to fall prey to a wide range of stigmas. Regardless of the reasons why a person ends up on the streets, it’s important for them to feel a sense of dignity and being able to earn an income provides just that. It’s the reason why participants in the program are so excited about taking part in something that gives them a sense of pride. It’s also something that has started to change the views of others in Dublin.
Regaining a Sense of Value
Participant in the program want people to understand that being homeless doesn’t make them a criminal. In addition to the obvious benefits, it offers a sense of purpose to people that have fallen on bad luck. It’s worth noting that the program can make a tremendous difference by serving the millions of people the visit Dublin each year. Tour guides receive half of the proceeds from ticket sales and the other half is invested back into the program to drive future success.
The key benefit of the tour guide program is that it humanizes people that are homeless. It has also enabled them to share the stories of people that live on the streets, including the social issues that contributed to the problem. In many instances, it’s a lack of affordable housing and limited opportunities to recover from situations in life that can be devastating. In fact, rents have continued to soar in Dublin for nearly a decade with no relief in sight. It’s the reason why the European commission has called upon leaders to deal with this issue that has become widespread throughout Ireland.
Many Dublin residents that grow up in care end up falling through the cracks later in life because there aren’t many opportunities to develop a skill after they age out of the system at 18. Some feel that they have no other choice but to live on the streets. In some cases, the many challenging experience on the streets results in problems with the police and a decline in mental health. These issues are compounded by a lack of education.
My Streets Ireland has opened doors for many by providing literacy programs that are often the beginning of a new trajectory in life. With an education, there’s a greater likelihood that someone living on the street will be able to find employment, even if it’s a job outside of the tour guide program. My Streets Ireland has changed thousands of lives through this creative approach to serving others. Individuals that had lost all hope are able to experience a transformation that they never dreamed possible.
If you’re ever in Dublin and you happen to see a tour guide, there’s a possibility that you’re looking at someone whose life has been drastically changed. For many, it’s a new beginning to a bright future where there was once only darkness.