(Vatican Radio) On the 22nd March an Irish Jesuit priest became the 77th person to
receive the Freedom of Dublin. Father Peter McVerry received the honour for his tireless
work over the last 40 years with young homeless people in the Irish capital.
Fr Peter set up the Peter McVerry Trust with the aim of reducing homelessness and the harm caused by drug misuse and social disadvantage.The services that the Trust provides include an informal drop-in centre which is the first point of contact for many young homeless people especially those leaving prison, supported temporary accommodation and drug treatment facilities.
There are also three services that offer support and accommodation for homeless children aged between 12-18.
Speaking to Lydia O’Kane, Fr Peter says the traditional image of homelessness has changed, in that, it is no longer true to say they are people with drink and drug issues or mental health problems. “The majority of people now who are becoming homeless are ordinary working class even middle class people who can no longer afford to pay the rents… or they’re people whose relationships have broken down and they have had to leave the home that they have been sharing with somebody else.”He goes on to say that having “a place to call home is a fundamental human right.”
Asked about being awarded the Freedom of Dublin, Fr Peter says he appreciates the honour and the fact that the issue of homelessness is being highlighted, but he modestly adds he doesn’t feel he deserves it.
Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s interview with Fr Peter McVerry SJ