Friday 28 July 2017

'Brendan deserves a safe home' - Mum with seriously-ill child facing homelessness pleads for help

Tracy McGinnis with her son Brendan
Tracy McGinnis with her son Brendan
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

THE mother of a seriously-ill child has said they are facing homelessness as she struggles to find a home that meets the needs of her son.

Tracy McGinnis (51) from Co Kildare said that she has nowhere to go and no-one to turn to as landlords are refusing to accept her Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) allowance.

The mother-of-two said she desperately needs a home for her two sons Brendan (12) and Declan (8).

Brendan has severe brain damage caused by a virus called cytomegalovirus.

Tracy with Brendan
Tracy with Brendan

“This virus unknowingly attacked his brain while I carried him inside of my own body for nine months,” Tracy told Independent.ie

As a result, Brendan can’t walk, talk, has uncontrolled epilepsy, lung disease, osteoporosis and cerebral palsy to name a few of his medical conditions". He’s on six doses of anti-seizure medication a day and is on a hospice-level care.

After a family relationship broke down last year, Tracy and her boys were forced to find new accomodation.

"We were accepted onto the housing list in Kildare but the council said it could take up to 15 years to get a house. Brendan's health is deteriorating and he needs a safe home."

The family have been living in an uncompleted home since December, which Tracy says is dirty, cold and dangerous.

"The rooms upstairs aren't finished and there's a huge draught in the house. I spent three weeks cleaning it before we could move in. I'm grateful we have it but I'm already two months behind in rent."

Tracy, who was a family therapist, had to leave her job to care for her young son.

She says her youngest son Declan (9) is finding the moving very hard as he may have to leave his school.

"He's having issues. It's very hard for him to cope and he's rightly very upset."

Tracy said that few people are helping her but that she has contacted local councillors to see if they can assist.

Brendan with younger brother Declan
Brendan with younger brother Declan

The family need money to get new equipment for Brendan as his current wheelchair adapted van is falling apart. The also need a modular ramp system for their home.

"The back doors don't properly close so if I take Brendan anywhere I have to keep stopping and slamming the door. It's very hard to go anywhere, whether it be to a hospital appointment or to the park."

The family have a fundraising page but Tracy said that it hasn't been very succesful.

"My heart goes out to children who have any illness or disability but I think fundraising pages only work for certain kids. If a child has cancer, they have a hope of surviving thank God, there is hope for the child that they will get better and people are obviously drawn to that.

"But for a child like my son Brendan, there is no hope. He will die, maybe today maybe five years time, but he has no hope. People aren't drawn to it because they feel that no matter what they do, they can't help Brendan. He deserves to have as full a life experience as he can, as does his brother Declan. They both deserve having a full life together, while they have each other.

"I don't like asking for help but I feel as though I have no choice. I need to put my boys first and we need help."

Tracy herself is suffering from a range of health issues, which she says she has no time or money to fix.

"I have degenerative discs in my back, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis and I need surgery on my foot. I can't get anything done about it while Brendan still need surgery," Tracy said.

The Kildare mum recently set up a new group called Profound Ireland to help parents of children with profound diabilities.

"We can support one another and advocate for better services for our kids. We're all drowning in our struggles."

You can donate to Tracy's fund here

Kildare County Council said in a statement that they do not comment on individual housing cases.

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