In my time since starting my internship at Focus Ireland, I have worked mostly behind the scenes. I have heard and learned a lot about the services that we offer, but I have never had much first-hand experience with any of these services. Yesterday, I got an in-depth view into our Caregivers service.
Caregivers is a free hostel offered to Irish teens (ages 18-26) that have problems with addiction. It is open from the hours of 6:30 PM to 9:30 AM. The young people can check in starting at 6:30 PM and the 9 rooms are given to those who need them the most. Each room in the hostel is individual. Those who check in are also given dinner, snacks, access to a communal bathroom, and entertainment such as TV, pool tables, and computers.
While this hostel gives these teens a roof over their heads for a night or possibly multiple nights, perhaps the most vital part of this hostel is that every person that checks in is matched with a care worker that is dedicated to moving them into long-term, permanent housing and getting them help for their addictions. Most of the homeless teens across Ireland are isolated from family and friends, and a strong, caring relationship with a care worker can make all the difference in the world for them.
The socialization aspect of the hostel also proves to be very beneficial for homeless teens. While they are given a private room to discourage talk about drugs and/or sexual activity, simply talking to someone else in a similar situation can be therapeutic. The care workers also take the teens to do activities like hiking, kayaking, or going to a museum so that they can enjoy an afternoon without it involving drugs or alcohol.
Overall, the experience of seeing and talking to the people at Caregivers made me feel much more connected to the work I do every day on the philanthropy team at Focus Ireland. It was great to see that my hard work to recruit and retain donors supports work like that done in the hostel and that it truly does change, and in some cases save, lives.