“I grew up in care and had limited mobility most of my life. My care experience wasn’t the best, so I longed for independence. I looked forward to turning 18 and getting my own place. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the way I had imagined. I rented a room in one of the few suitable apartments with another person. The high rent left me with barely enough money for basic groceries, let alone socializing. My homelessness began after an argument with my flatmate, and I couldn’t afford the rent. That day, I asked my aftercare worker to pick me up, and she brought me to a residential area for the homeless. I was led into a room that looked like a prison cell. It was so small that I could barely turn around in it. I had to go next door to use the bathroom, which was not accessible. My aftercare worker could see the shock on my face, but she was long after hours and had to leave. I remember closing the door, wondering what I could have done differently to avoid getting here. I was just sitting there for what felt like hours and had never felt so lonely. Then, my aftercare worker returned. She said, ‘I just can’t leave you here. Come, let’s try to find somewhere better.’ I can’t explain how much that moment meant to me. We went from place to place until we found an accessible hostel, which felt safer. Growing up, I was never really exposed to addiction but in the homeless shelter, you get to see the dark side of all sorts of addictions, which will leave a mark on your mental health. I stayed there for 8 months, during which time I fell into a deep depression. I was moved from place to place until I was put in touch with Focus Ireland. They were able to locate an apartment for me. It was the first time I felt that things would finally get better, but in life, rarely does anything come without complications. I am 26 now, and it took this long to get the home where I live today. Once I was able to secure it, my mental health transformed, and I began to thrive. I took up courses and began to work with children in an after-school program. I now know that back then, I didn’t have any other options, and having to go through all that wasn’t my fault.”
This story was highlighted by Focus Ireland. Listen to a new Focus Ireland podcast to learn more about homelessness and housing.
The podcast shares compelling stories about the work Focus Ireland does and the impact the charity achieved on behalf of their customers. Over the series, Clare McKenna has spoken in depth with a range of guests including Focus Ireland staff, current and former customers, and external experts.
The series aims to highlight the problems and solutions while providing space for Focus Ireland customers to share their lived experiences and reflections on homelessness and moving on.
You can listen here via the link below or an Spotify, Acast and Apple Podcasts.