Some Mondays on my drive to work from my warm and comfortable home that I share with my husband and three children I choose to listen to something light, some rock tunes, or an audiobook. Today, I listened to Morning Ireland and found myself crying as I drove.
Sometimes we hear the news in between commutes or school runs and we become immune to it. I wrote the homelessness crisis back in December but things are only getting worse.
Three homeless people have died in our country in the past week.
We forget that there are people behind the stories and lives behind the statistics.
I’d heard the report from Focus Ireland last week I’m sure. The fact that almost 3,000 children are living in emergency homeless accommodation with their parents glossed over me.
Emergency accommodation usually means in one hotel room, with no cooking facilities, and zero privacy. I’d always imagined small children or toddlers when I heard these statistics but this morning I listened to the story of Theresa, a mature student who lives in a hotel room with her three children, one daughter in college in Galway, one who has just started 5th year and her son in primary school.
I’d watched the PrimeTime specials for the comfort of my couch. I’d seen people show the conditions that they were living in, but today, listening to Amanda, the teenage girl who’s struggling to make school work while living in these conditions tell all to Emma O’Kelly on Morning Ireland I cried. She was so eloquent, so genuine. She mentioned missing coming home and her mum making chicken pasta bake and things like grating the cheese. Such a simple image that we all take for granted, but something that means the world to those who can’t do it.
Imagine studying for your Leaving Cert in a room you share with your mother and siblings. Imagine not having any home comforts. Imagine getting out to school each morning and going home to a hotel, and not wanting anyone to know about it. The teacher who appeared on the radio clip showed real empathy and helped Amanda and her mother. Amanda, her mother Theresa and her siblings are stuck. They’re living in that hotel for a year. Waiting and hoping.
These are the new homeless. People just like us.
Listening in tears I felt powerless. It drove home to me how close we all are to becoming homeless, this family ended up where they are after the parents’ marriage breakdown.
Looking at the Focus Ireland website later I found that they are running a campaign at the moment asking the Minister for Education to support homeless school children. You can access more information on that here and send a template email to the Minister. You can also make a donation if you wish.
You can listen to the radio piece by Emma O’Kelly on this morning’s Morning Ireland here, it’s worth giving the 8 minutes or so to, to here what it’s like.
When you do, I’d urge you to show support to children like Amanda and send that email or donate. Children like them need our support.