A CARLOW charity worker was attacked and received death threats while handing out jackets to Dublin’s homeless.
The frightening experience happened to Kevin Kelly, founder of the Jacket Off Your Back charity, as he was handing out jackets and clothes two weeks ago.
The Carlow man had walked back to the charity’s van to give a pair of shoes to a homeless person when he was approached by a man.
Kevin grew suspicious as the charity’s volunteers had come under pressure from groups of Roma who are involved in organised begging and the second-hand clothes market. This Roma man saw Kevin giving the homeless person a pair of shoes and asked for the same. Kevin noticed that the man was wearing a brand new pair of shoes and refused. The man then became abusive.
“They make themselves look so down and out, but he had perfect English when it came to giving me abuse,” said Kevin.
Kevin went to leave the area but returned when he saw the individual circling his van and feared it may have been damaged. A previous van belonging to the charity had been stolen and written off a few months previously.
“He then chased me three times around the van. I was a bit ahead of him and hopped into the van. He came up to the window and said: ‘I will remember your face, I will kill you’.”
Kevin said that he found the threat chilling, but is determined to return to Dublin and hand out more jackets to the homeless. However, the charity will now put up a stall rather than walk the streets for security reasons.
On a happier note, the Jacket off Your Back group has gone from strength to strength since it was established four months ago. Some 2,000 jackets have been distributed across the country and the charity has 150 volunteers. Since Christmas, over a dozen volunteers have been handing out jackets to Dublin’s homeless on a weekly basis. It’s also planned to send out a container of medical equipment, baby clothes and accessories to Syria’s war refugees in the next few weeks.
“We need all baby stuff, cots, Moses’ baskets, push chairs, nappies (washable and disposable), milk formula, crutches and bandages,” said Kevin. The items are being stored for transport at a unit in Strawhall, Carlow.
People can drop items into Global Cycles, Carlow Property Management, Inches a Weigh and Tullow parish centre.