'I didn't know where we were going to end up'
TAMARA Kearns, her husband and their two young children found themselves homeless in so short a time that she hardly had time to think about what was happening.
The couple had fallen behind on their rent because, at the height of the economic crisis, her husband's hours had been cut in the factory where he worked as a picker.
Their daughter Stacy was six, while their son, Paul, had just turned a year old, and after their landlord gave them notice, the family had to pack up the car with their belongings. It was Halloween night and, with nowhere else to go, they were officially homeless.
The council slotted them into emergency accommodation in a hotel but there were no cooking facilities and with Paul still on bottles, it was "certainly no holiday", said Tamara.
"I don't know how I felt at the time," she said. "I was just grateful for somewhere to go for the time being. It all happened so quick and I didn't know where we were going to end up."
With the family in crisis, Tamara elected to tell Stacy what was going on because she was asking questions.
"One minute she had her own room and was able to play outside with her friends, the next she was taken away and isolated, sharing a bed with her younger brother," she said.
Tamara has sought counselling for her daughter because her life has been so disruptive in the past year that she fears she will be psychologically scarred.
To deal with the practicalities, Tamara smuggled a microwave into the hotel so that she could make some makeshift meals for her children but it was only with the help of the St Vincent de Paul that the family were really able to survive.
After two weeks, the family had been moved into a two-bedroom apartment in a homeless persons' unit in Crumlin where they have remained ever since.