UCD St. Vincent de Paul (UCD SVP)’s  Homeless Week 2013, which took place outside the James Joyce Library last week, has raised in excess of €2,700 to help support those who are struggling with homelessness.

The event was launched on November 5th by Alice Leahy of TRUST, a social and health service for those who are homeless. The St. Vincent De Paul’s Head of Social Justice, John-Mark McCafferty, was also present.

UCD SVP also welcomed Fr. Peter McVerry of the Peter McVerry Trust who gave a talk on homelessness, an ever-present problem in Irish society, with an estimated 5,000 homeless people currently living in Ireland.

This year, the society raised over €2,700, which was slightly down on previous yearly total., Despite this, the changing nature of the event has been welcomed by UCD SVP Auditor Clare Cryan. She expressed her delight at how the event has “evolved over the past years from a fundraising event to an event with an emphasis on awareness raising.”

During the week, many students particpated in a nightly sleep out, taking up residence outside the James Joyce library. Although it was a challenge, Cryan was quick to point out that it was “nothing compared to what it is like to be homeless.”

The volunteers were kept busy during the day, “selling tea and coffee, answering questions and handing out sponsorship forms.”

UCD SVP aims to help those who are marginalised in society while promoting self-sufficiency. It is one of the largest and most active college societies and helps both students in need on campus and participates in community projects in Dublin, like volunteering in Backlane Homeless Hostel.

The society carries out a soup run four times a week, on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights. Students gather at The Spire on O’Connell Street, purchase food and prepare it in Teach Mhuire, a hostel on Gardiner Street, before distributing it to homeless people in the city centre.

The funds raised from Homeless Week 2013 will be used to finance projects like this, which costs “upwards of €200 each week.” While the society continues to run weekly events, it is also planning more fundraisers, talks, debates and social events for next semester.

UCD SVP is always looking for new members. Cryan spoke of at length about the benefits of getting involved, which she summised as being “a great way to get to know people on campus and develop new skills, while also making a very real difference to society.”