Kieran Mulvey, Chair of The Refund Project, Sam McGuinness, Dublin Simon Orla Kerbey, Head of Fundraising & Marketing, Peter McVerry and Ashley Balbirnie, Chief Executive, Focus Ireland.

Three of Ireland’s best-known charities have come together to launch the Refund Project, a national campaign asking people to donate their Irish Water charge refunds to help tackle the homelessness crisis.

The Refund Project consists of the Simon Community, Peter McVerry Trust and Focus Ireland who will be the beneficiaries of the initiative.

Almost 8,500 people are now homeless in Ireland, including more than 3,000 children.

The Irish Water repayment scheme will see €173m repaid to account holders in the coming weeks and the three charities are hoping that some of the refunds will be donated to deal with the homelessness crisis.

A special oversight group has been set up, chaired by the former head of the Workplace Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey.

He said the initial public response to the campaign been hugely encouraging.

“When we first floated this as a concept earlier this month we got a really positive public response.

“Thanks to a huge effort since then the refund project is today a reality and we are now accepting public donations.

“The idea has caught the public imagination simply because homelessness is such an enormous problem in this country today and we sense that ordinary people, as well as wanting the state to act, would like to be able to play their part too.”

In a joint statement, the three homeless charities said: “Not everybody will be able to contribute, but many people will have the means to donate – and it is to those that we direct this appeal.

“We all have a role to play, whether it’s government, charities or society.

“For our part – we have come together to create a national campaign to enable the public to easily donate their refunded monies towards this hugely important cause.

“We would reiterate that the Refund Project will not diminish in any way the responsibility of government and policy makers to drive forward the national homelessness strategy.”

The campaign is due to run until the New Year. Donations can be made at www.refundproject.ie.

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