I walked from Ireland to Turkey, 4,500 km.

“My brother was only 24 when he died. It was totally unexpected. His heart just stopped working one night. Losing him was very hard on me and on the whole family. I finished college a couple of years before and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just knew deep down that I didn’t want to settle down and in 2009 I decided to go for a walk. I walked from Ireland to Turkey, 4,500 km. When you go for a walk like that, you get to meet people from all walks of life and they interact with you in such an open and heartfelt way. They are curious, they ask you lots of questions and always want to help. They want to buy food for you, offer a ride or a place to sleep. I didn’t really plan my nights. I didn’t even bring a tent with me so I would sleep in fields or abandoned buildings. I loved the sense of adventure and after losing my brother I needed this experience to feel alive. I got to meet some homeless people on my way whose experiences were very different from mine. They didn’t have the luxury of the attention and curiosity of people. Before that, for me, homeless people were just statistics, but meeting them and listening to their stories was such an eye-opening experience that I decided when I go back home, I will work in homeless services. I am a social worker for a good few years now. I work, most often with, people who have fallen through the cracks of the system. Some of them don’t even know how to read or write but the one thing they all have in common is a story. They all have a story! For a long time, I was thinking of ways to give these people the opportunity to learn something that they can turn into employment. One day, I head about this programme in England where they trained people to become tour guides of their own city… I thought: ‘this is exactly what I was looking for!”

With the support of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland ‘My Streets Ireland’ empowers individuals who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of ‘their’ town through the provision of necessary training and support. SEI is currently open for applications for people with an idea or project tackling a social issue. They have €500,000 in funding and support available but you have to be quick, their deadline for application is closing on the 21st of March. Find out more here: http://socialentrepreneurs.ie/


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