‘Help us keep warm’ as Via Wings sleep out

Joanne Ogle and Tori McKinstry, two of the Via Wings staff who will be sleeping out on Friday evening. Photo: drewmcwilliams.com 2016
Joanne Ogle and Tori McKinstry, two of the Via Wings staff who will be sleeping out on Friday evening. Photo: drewmcwilliams.com 2016

Homeless within four walls - that’s the plight of some local families according to Via Wings.

And now, as the Dromore charity prepare to go a night in their shoes, the staff are going to need your help.

Working conditions at Via Wings, Dromore, are a whole lot different to what the staff can expect when they sleep rough. Photo: (c) drewmcwilliams.com 2016

Working conditions at Via Wings, Dromore, are a whole lot different to what the staff can expect when they sleep rough. Photo: (c) drewmcwilliams.com 2016

The 10 girls, ranging from 21 to 54 in age, are going to sleep out in Dromore Square on Friday night and are relying on local people to make sure they keep warm.

Taking to the streets in just the clothes they are wearing, they will need sleeping bags, hats, scarves and plenty of warm drinks to see them through the night. And everything they get will be passed on to a charity helping the homeless in Belfast.

The staff have Joanne Ogle to thank for the cold night that awaits. It was her idea, driven by the stark reality with which she came face to face.

“We’ve been doing home refurbishments for people in disadvantaged situations and once we were in their houses, we realised what a need there is,” she said.

“It’s easy to think that Dromore hasn’t got a homeless problem because there is nobody sleeping rough in the square.

“Yes, people might have houses but some have no heating, no furniture or anything, it’s basically just walls and a floor. And in a lot of these houses, it’s colder inside than it is out. They might not be houseless but they are homeless.

“One of the girls has even said that she stays out as long as possible at night just to avoid going home because it’s so cold.

“What we want people to realise is that it could be your next door neighbour. Homelessness isn’t just about not having a house.”

So while Joanne and her staff need your help on Friday, it’s the local public who need you every night of the year. And Via Wings are more than happy to give you a way to make a difference.

“What we do with our refurbishments is quite basic,” said Joanne, “painting walls and using beds or sofas or anthing we have been donated.

“A lot of the people we help will also come and help out by painting the next house or something.

“And one of the girls here regularly uses stuff from her own house because she thinks it would go well. We need more donations of items or money and also time, if people can help out practically.

“We want to cause a bit of a stir. If anybody sees this and thinks they can help in any way, that’s what we want.

“Before I worked here, I would have been one of those people thinking it’s silly and Dromore doesn’t have this problem but I wish people could see what’s happening.”

You can donate towards Via Wings’ refurbishments by searching for #vwintheirshoes on justgiving.com.