BROTHERS IN ARMS Padraic Rocliffe and his brother Alan run the Shine a Light organisation.
Westport native Padraic Rocliffe is continuing to raise awareness of homelessness and aid the homeless through campaigns that have been set up by his own volunteer organisation, ‘Shine a Light’.
Padraic, who runs Shine a Light with his brother Alan (who is the managing director of the organisation), has run many campaigns around the country. His next awareness campaign will take place by the Spire on O’Connell Street in Dublin on Saturday, December 14, at 1.30pm.
However, going back to why Padraic started his organisation is a very inspiring but traumatic story. A keen swimmer, Padraic was studying Physical Education and English in the University of Limerick, when he was offered the opportunity to spend a four-month semester on an exchange, studying in Southern California. During his time away he embarked on a road trip to Lake Tahoe and on this trip his life would change immensely.
During this trip Padraic was involved in a serious accident while a puncture in the car he was travelling in was being fixed. Padraic suffered some serious injuries, his neck was broken in three places, his back had suffered four breaks, one of his legs was fractured, and one of his feet was broken in two places.
Padraic spent the next two months bed-bound in a hospital trauma unit before eventually being placed in a rehabilitation centre.
On Christmas Day he was out for dinner in Las Vegas and he met two homeless people and bought a meal for them. He was inspired by their story and vowed to try and help the homeless crisis upon his return to Ireland.
Today, Padraic is the head coach of the University of Limerick swim team and is contracted to work with a company called Swimtrek in the area of open water swimming. He is also due to start a PhD in Physical Activity and Mental Health this January.
With Padraic’s hectic schedule it’s hard to believe he has the time to run the Shine a Light organisation,
“When I broke my neck, back, leg and foot. I was bedbound for a long time and had to learn how to do all the essentials again such as walking, feeding myself, showering, reading a book, etc. With that I have developed a strong work ethic and have no problem putting in long days to make changes in both my own and others’ lives.”
Padraic spoke about the impact the accident had on his life,
“The accident was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s allowed me to approach life with an alternative lens and treat each day like it is my last. I have been given a second chance at life and I don’t intend on wasting it.”
Padraic’s end goal for his organisation is, to ultimately ease the plight of everyday life on the streets.
“The more people become aware of the homeless issue in this country, the more people that will help us solve it.”
Padraic spoke about his upcoming campaign in Dublin and it being so close to Christmas.
“We will spend the day distributing much needed essential goods by means of Shine a Light care packs filled with clothing, non perishable food items, liquids and hygiene products.
“Christmas is a particularly tough time for those on the streets. The homeless are often forgotten by their family and friends. To be able to meet these people, stop have a conversation, provide hot drinks, food, clothing and hygiene products helps not only Shine a Light in these people’s lives but is essential to affect change across the board.”
Padraic is keen to highlight struggles the homeless community go through, such as drug abuse and mental illness.
“Be it bipolar, depression, schizophrenia. We have seen the cuts in the mental budget and indeed in social housing over the years and this is now reflected in the cities, towns and streets the length and breadth of this country.”
There are various of collection points for the upcoming Shine a Light campaign: Westport Leisure Park (anytime between November 19 and December 10); Students Union Office, University of Limerick (anytime between November 19 and December 10); Louisburgh Town Hall (Tuesdays 6.30pm to 10pm). Items accepted: Hats, scarves, socks, gloves, jackets, non-perishable food items and hygiene products.