Tiglin – Alen

“I grew up in Croatia, in an environment that didn’t provide opportunities. It wasn’t the best place to grow up in. I don’t really remember much from my childhood; my brain tends to erase things from my past. I had to get a little older to realise that I had some form of PTSD. Now I can see that my mother had her own difficulties; she was a single parent looking after my twin brother and me. She had a lot of issues… to cut it short, it was an environment that you have to escape. I couldn’t fix it so I left. I came to Ireland as soon as I turned 18. It all happened quickly. I got a summer job in Croatia and saved about €1,000; just enough to change my life. It was already September, I finished high school and college was never an option for me. I bought a one-way ticket to Dublin. I worked as a kitchen porter and do all sorts of odd day jobs just to get by, I would sleep rough in Phoenix Park until I got enough money to pay for my brother’s flight. Despite being homeless, we were surprised by how much food we had; we already felt we were better off. There is so much support for homeless people in Dublin, so much food and clothes, and services, everything you need. My approach was to take every opportunity to improve myself, and by connecting to all sorts of services and volunteering, I was able to improve my life. I got into transitional housing and subsequently into education. Now, at the age of 26, I have a Master’s Degree. Being connected to so many charities and getting to know so many people, these services took on a role of a parent for us. Through that, we were able to climb the ladder. I now work as Service Manager with Tiglin at the Lighthouse, and my brother is a manager at our other centers doing residential for young adults. We like to think that our work is very important because, without places like this, people would do much worse. The majority of the service users are good people, and they come here for safety, even if it’s only for a few hours, and that’s what we provide here.”