BARSS delivering hot drink to rough sleepers in and around Bray

BARRS at work in Bray
BARRS at work in Bray

Five years ago the Bray Area Rough Sleepers Support group was founded by a handful of volunteers. The aim was very simple – to provide hot drinks and snacks for rough sleepers around the Bray area and to provide a service for people after other homeless services closed for the day. Since then every single night volunteers from BARSS provide drinks and snacks for rough sleepers. Without fail.

Kelly Tormey was one of the original volunteers five years ago and today her brother and husband both volunteer too. In COVID times, they have had to rejig rosters so that some volunteers could help by staying at home but still provide sandwiches, and that volunteers went out in households.

Every night the baton is passed between the volunteers consisting of the hot water flasks, the cartons of snacks, drinks and sandwiches and also the magnetic sign to attach to the car so that the service users recognise the group, regardless of which car is used.

Five years on and Kelly still loves it. “We are friends with the service users and know them well. Some may not be able to avail of other services for different reasons. And when it’s winter our service is needed even more. While we normally have regular stops, if the weather is awful we can go to the tents or shelters and deliver the food directly – who would want to leave a tent in the pouring rain?”
Mostly the rough sleepers are men, although there are some women recently but no children.

“At the beginning we could go and there could be nobody – and that would be a result. But in recent years the numbers have grown and we now normally see between 10 and 20 people every night.”

Every night they deliver sandwiches, tea and coffee, crisps, pot noodles and chocolate. Originally the food was provided by the volunteers but now there are donations from other people via Facebook and even businesses help.

“People are so kind to us donating foods and snacks.”

Recently they were awarded the Endeavour Award from Bray county council which is great for spreading awareness and in return getting more donations.

And Kelly’s callout during the lockdown is for non perishable goods but not tins.
“We go through a huge amount of food every night – 20 lots of crisps and pot noodles is a lot – but we can’t take tins for example as most of our service users live in tents or doorways, they don’t have kitchens or storage areas.”

That is a sobering thought that their precarious lives can’t accommodate tins of food. To donate, visit the Facebook page.

Listen here https://wicklowgoodnews.buzzsprout.com/970561/4072403-wicklow-good-news-23-kelly-tormey-of-barss

Wicklow Good News was set up by Jillian Godsil and Marlena Murphy to celebrate the resilience and the enthusiam of Wicklow Citizens during the COVID19 pandemic. https://wicklowgoodnews.buzzsprout.com/970561

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