Large crowds expected in Longford for Bethany House fundraiser

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Bethany House

Tena Keown, Teresa Gilchriest and Lisa Daly of Spin Longford Picture: Shelley Corcoran

A fundraiser feast is due to be held in aid of Bethany House Longford this coming Saturday, May 4, in what promises to be a fun day out for all of the family.

A 'Feast for Bethany' will be held at Market Square from 11am to 5pm on the day, with literally something for everyone.

The Longford Vintage club will showcase a vintage tractor on the day, while there will also be an artisan market, a crepe stand and much more.

For the younger attendees, they can meet some of their favourite Disney characters, get their faces painted, while adults can have some fun in Mrs Brown's Tea rooms. People can still book a stand at the feast at a price of €10 by contacting Lisa on 0894924637.

“We also have a couple of buskers coming on the day and a young rock band from School of Rock called Purify,” Organiser Lisa Daly explains.

After the completion of the fun-packed day, a raffle will then take place in Andy Byrne’s bar with an abundance of prizes on offer and music from DJ Duggy.

Organisers Lisa and Tena urged people to put themselves in the shoes of the Bethany residents and help out if they can, which is why they decided on the fundraiser in the first place.

“As a mother to think of children with no forever home is heart breaking,” Tena Keown said.

“We said we would do something in the summer so they can put the funds to good use,” Lisa added.

Bethany house was first opened in 2003 and is a Saint Vincent de Paul run operation. Prior to its opening, the only emergency accommodation for women in the area was located at the men’s facility, St Martha’s.

Over the past 16 years, the facility has seen hundreds of women and children pass through their doors and they currently house 6 women and three children.

The facility provides emergency accommodation for women over the age of 18 from Longford, Westmeath, Laois and Offaly, and can capably house up to 19 people They currently have social care practictioners, youth and family staff and staff fully trained in domestic abuse support within their ranks.

“Fundraisers like this are so important in allowing us to help our clients and enable them to improve. We want to try and empower these ladies, so when they move back into the community they are able to support themselves and sustain their tenancies. We don’t want to set them up to fail,” Manager Teresa Gilchriest told the Leader.

“We are just trying to help them progress forward as much as we possibly can.”

One of the girls currently living in Bethany house, who wishes to remain anonymous, said her life has changed dramatically since her arrival.

“It has helped me completely turn my life around. Before I came here I felt lost, down and I didn’t know where I would end up. If they didn’t help me, I didn’t know where I would be. I can’t thank them enough.

“It is just like a home, how it is supposed to be. It was a great comfort to know they were here to help.

“It is a scary thing being homeless and not knowing where you are going to sleep. It was a tough time but having the help from Teresa and the staff was fantastic.”

Teresa vowed that any money raised as part of the ‘feast’ will be put to good use.

“We are funded through the Department of Environment through the local authority and the HSE, but unfortunately that funding, as good as it is to get it, doesn’t meet our needs.

“We are very passionate about what we do. We would love to do more and if we had more funding we could do more work with young people to ensure they don’t fall back into the same trap again,” Teresa concluded.