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Hope Fest 2024: UCD volunteers provide wellness festival for those experiencing homelessness

Posted 14 May, 2024

The UCD Community Choir performing at Hope Fest 2024 at the Iveagh Gardens in Dublin

Dozens of student and staff volunteers at UCD have taken part in Hope Fest – an annual wellness event for those experiencing homelessness in Dublin.

Organised in collaboration with UCD in the Community and the (opens in a new window)Dublin Lions Club, as well as over 30 homeless services across the county, the ‘mini festival’ aims to provide those experiencing homelessness with a sense of community and belonging. 

This year there were over 460 guests in attendance at the Iveagh Gardens, with many families present, who were able to avail of a range of services from haircuts, chiropody, first aid, yoga and reiki, while the children’s zone had games, colouring, facepainting and balloon making.

Live music was provided by the UCD Community Choir, alongside the Medlife Crisis band and the (opens in a new window)Society of St. Vincent de Paul Ireland, and some 20 UCD student volunteers kept things running smoothly throughout the day.

UCD student volunteers Andrea Uchime and Aliyah Olawepo helping with the set up for this year's Hope Fest

“Hope Fest would not be possible without the support of volunteers from across the UCD community,” said Theresa O’Leary, from UCD in the Community.

“We had 20 student volunteers, who took time out of their exam schedules to volunteer on the day and we also had the wonderful UCD Community Choir who entertained guests with a wide variety of songs.

“This event is all about giving dignity to people experiencing homelessness and providing them with a sense of community and belonging. The feedback from the homeless services has been incredible, and it has become a highlight of the summer for many of their clients.”

Begun in 2018, Hope Fest grew out of many conversations around how UCD could support the homeless community in a real and meaningful way, while providing an opportunity for staff and student volunteers to engage with the wider community.

Through consultation with the Dublin Lions Club and various homelessness organisations, it was identified that while there are many events around Christmas for those experiencing homelessness, there were no events taking place during the summer period, and isolation and loneliness for those experiencing homelessness is a yearlong issue. 

“[It is] all about creating a special, welcoming day for our guests,” said John Sheehy, Dublin Lions Club and Hope Fest committee member.

“Along with the live music, games, and entertainment, we also provide hot meals, refreshments, and vital services… Hope Fest is a really unique example of how community-university partnerships can really change the lives of others.”

Established in 2016, UCD in the Community supports and promotes connecting UCD staff and students with the wider community to allow them to use their skills and expertise to support community-based organisations.

The Hope Fest committee said it was very grateful to the volunteers from UCD, Dublin Lions Club, Perrigo and Tiglin, who gave their time to the event; all those who provided the wellness services; and all the companies who provided the infrastructure, security, and food.

They would also like to thank Civil Defence, An Garda Síochána and the OPW for their continuous support.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations

To contact the UCD News & Content Team, email: newsdesk@ucd.ie