Leitrim footballers, ladies footballers and hurlers are among a group of over 400 current and former inter-county football, hurling and camogie players who are passionate about making a difference have united under the umbrella of ‘Gaelic Voices for Change’.
This coming Saturday they are holding a 'solidarity sleep-out' from 6pm to 6am that is designed to draw attention to the homelessness crisis, raise funds, and call for action.
The new player-led social movement is made up of volunteers from the four provinces who have been meeting weekly for the past two months.
The group, which is supported by the GPA and WGPA, feel strongly that the GAA is based on community values and that they want to use their voice to support the most vulnerable in society. They have identified the housing and homeless crisis as a priority area to focus on but are also keen to look at areas such as mental health, gambling and racism.
Already over 400 county players and past players have signed up for the sleep-out which will take place in 12 towns and cities including Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Belfast, New York, Portlaoise, Naas, Sligo, Wexford and Carlow.
Already the group have raised over €70,000 for homeless charities north and south including the Peter McVerry Trust, DePaul, the Simon Communities, Focus Ireland and the Capuchin Day Centre, Cope Galway, Thomand House and Novas in Limerick, and the Welcome Organisation in Belfast.
People can also support by donating online at www.gaelicvoicesforchange.com
During their research the group met with leading experts in the area of homelessness. They are alarmed by ISPCC reports that Ireland now has the highest child homelessness rate in Europe and that, according to Focus Ireland, there has been a 24% increase in homelessness in the past year.
The group are on Twitter and Instagram @GaelicVoices4Ch and on Facebook at ‘Gaelic Voices For Change’.