My Streets Ireland, an innovative social enterprise that employs homeless (and formerly homeless) people, has had to cancel much of its work due to the ongoing pandemic.
Aiming to empower people affected by homelessness, My Streets has gained international recognition from New Zealand to Canada, and has reached over 40 millions people via various media platforms like radio and newspapers. This people-driven organisation fights the effects of homelessness by providing a three month long professional training programme, enabling graduated staff to carry out charismatic walking tours in Irish cities and towns.
Being a social enterprise means My Streets keeps ticking due to the income generated by the tour guide staff, a set up that in normal circumstances would be very sustainable. Many of the most difficult lockdown outcomes have arisen due to a reduction in the opportunities for work that many people depend on for their livelihood.
One of the brilliant things about this well-networked tour company is that employment here can lead to further work opportunities for people with partner agencies, giving them a leg up towards financial independence.
Founded in 2014 in Drogheda and expanding to Dublin in 2018, My Streets hopefully will continue to battle the homelessness situation post-lockdown. Although the homelessness statistics for families and single persons have varied over the past year, Focus Ireland reports that during the Christmas week of 21-27 December 2020, there were 8,200 people in homelessness across Ireland.
This charity also reports that as December came to a close in 2020, 728 young people under 25 years of age were living in emergency homeless accommodation, with 63% of these people living in Dublin. Alarmingly, this report signified an 80% increase in young people seeking emergency respite since August of 2014.
Meanwhile, the Simon Community reports that the number of single people entering homelessness is rising. The statistics for January reveal that homelessness in Dublin for families is decreasing, but alarmingly, the number of single people feeling the burden of homelessness has shot up by 7% from January 2020 to January 2021.
Hopefully once the pandemic subsides My Streets can continue their important work in alleviating the homelessness situation across Ireland, with their versatile and entertaining tours. From Paddy’s Loveable Literary Rogues Tour to Martin and Cyril’s History and Music Tour, it seems obvious that a My Streets tour will provide a special and insightful view of Ireland’s great cities.
In an interview with Radio New Zealand, My Streets Amit Bhartiya was asked “Why are My Streets tours better than other tours in Ireland?”. Bhartiya quipped back “Because an alley cat is smarter than a house cat!”. Say no more, who can argue with that?