Hope Fest is returning in May 2023 to the Iveagh Gardens, Dublin 2. We will be looking for volunteers to help out on the day. Please keep an eye on here for updates on how you can volunteer.
Hope Fest is an annual wellness and music event for those experiencing homelessness in Dublin, run by students and staff of UCD, in collaboration with the Dublin Lions Club and Dublin Simon Community. This event grew out of many conversations around how the university 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 in a mutually beneficial way. 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 homeless is a yearlong issue.
The inaugural summer event took place outdoors in the Iveagh Gardens (with kind support from the OPW) on Saturday May 26th 2018. The event ran again on May 18th 2019, under the new name of Hope Fest, and was attended by over 270 guests experiencing homelessness. As per a recommendation from Dublin Simon Community, the 2019 event was also opened up to children and families for the first time. This meant that many of the guests were given the opportunity to take their children to an event where they felt welcome and safe. The event had a 'festival' feel, with barbecue catering, an ice-cream cart, games, entertainment, a children's zone and a wellness area where guests availed of services such as haircuts, chiropody, mindfulness, massage, yoga and massage. Music was provided by a variety of voluntary musical acts, including the UCD Community Staff Choir, student musicians from UCD, a local brass band, along with well-known Irish artists Declan O’Rourke, Mundy and Liam Ó Maonlaí. Over 60 volunteers from UCD and the Dublin Lions Club volunteered for the event.
Some quotes from our guests:
"I felt so normal, I felt like everyone else.”
"Everyone [here] is so nice and took the time to listen to my stories.”
"I can imagine being here with my son and it has been a long time since I could imagine something like that. Maybe next year.”
"I got a top to toe makeover, got my hair done and my feet done, I feel great.”
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Hope Fest could not be held in the Iveagh Gardens in May 2020. We adapted and organised it remotely and it was held on 10 October 2020, World Homeless Day, in 16 Dublin Simon Community services in three counties. Over 350 Dublin Simon clients were provided with hot food, wellness activities and a video with messages of hope and live music from Gavin James, Lisa Hannigan, the UCD Choral Scholars, Keith Duffy (Boyzone) and more. As the community sector have suffered huge financial losses due to the pandemic, a link was included to a JustGiving page for members of the UCD community streaming the ‘Hope Fest @ Home’ video, where they could donate to the Dublin Simon Community. A hugely successful part of this year’s Hope Fest was the inclusion of a specially commissioned ‘Hope’ illustration by illustrator Paula McGloin that was printed to A0 and was coloured in by the clients on the day, as a collaborative mindfulness group activity. The art works are now displayed in each service as a reminder of the event. The event was a huge success, with one client commenting that Hope Fest is what they “need to believe in to keep them ticking".
On 10 September 2022, Hope Fest returned to an in person event to the Iveagh Gardens, Dublin. Over 300 guests attended including families with children, who were provided with an array of musical acts including UCD Choir, Cian O'Melia, TBL8 Brass Band and Metabolix. There were also Magician shows, barbers and wellness tent providing massage to clients. Given the slighly later date than usual the day was a huge success and special thanks go to OPW for providing the event with this unique space to host the event each year.