'I don't want Kali (2) to see me crying' - Young mother will wake up in temporary accommodation on Christmas morning
'How do I explain to a child that Santa can't bring her what she wants because we live in a hotel?'
Published 19/12/2015 | 07:13
While the majority of Irish people will wake up in their bedroom on Christmas morning, and tear downstairs to see what Santa has brought, several families will begin the day in an impersonal hotel room.
They are in these hotels because the rooms are deemed as 'temporary accommodation' for homeless families.
Lyndsey Robinson (24) and her two-year-old daughter Kali have been living in a small and basic room in a city centre hotel in the capital for the last ten months.
Lyndsey is dreading Christmas Day as she says Santa won't be able to bring the present that Kali wants.
"It's heartbreaking to think we will wake up here. To be honest I'm pushing it to the back of my mind.
"We will go to my aunt's house for dinner on Christmas Day but we won't stay too long as I'm conscious not to get in people's way," she told Independent.ie.
Her young daughter has asked Santa for a 'Frozen' bed.
"But that won't fit that into our hotel room so she'll have to make do with a small inflatable 'Frozen' bed instead.
The doting mother explained that despite Kali's tender age she is fully aware of what Christmas means, and believes that Santa always brings what is requested.
"How do I explain that he can't bring her what she wants?"
"It's so difficult to have that conversation with your child. As a parent you don't want to have that conversation," Lyndsey said.
Like so many others, when Lyndsey's landlord increased the rent on the Finglas apartment that she and Kali shared, she simply could not afford it and was forced to leave.
The city centre hotel was then assigned to them by Dublin City Council (DCC) as '"a temporary solution" and mother and daughter have remained there ever since.
While Lyndsey only has positive things to say about the staff of the hotel, she explains that the confined living space has had a detrimental effect on both her physical and mental health.
"We wake up at about nine in the morning in our double bed. The bedroom is small and basic and there's just one small window looking out onto the street.
"We have cereal for breakfast but we eat it in our room as Kali feels intimidated by the other children in the communal kitchen.
"When we had our own place Kali went to creché and I was studying social care in Colaiste Ide in Finglas.
"I dreamed of becoming a social worker. But when we moved to the hotel I had to drop out and take Kali out of creché," she said, her voice becoming emotional.
After breakfast mother and daughter leave the hotel and wander around the city to kill time.
Lyndsey tries to give Kali the most nutritious meals possible, and selects pubs that serve carvery lunches which include plenty of vegetables.
"The worst thing about our situation is that there's no routine. Kali should have a routine by her age and she doesn't.
"It's awful being couped up in such a small area.
"I cry all the time. I run into the loo so that Kali doesn't see crying me or she will cry with me.
The young mother said that a GP diagnosed her with depression and put her on anti-depressants.
"Kali often wakes during the night and the doctor said it sounds like she is suffering from anxiety," she added.
Lyndsey said she rings the local authority's homeless section every day and describes the phone calls as "soul-destroying".
"When I contact the DCC Homeless section in Parkgate Hall they tell me to call back in March. On one occasion I was told it would be May 2017 before I get a place of my own," she said.
Dublin City Council told Independent.ie that they are not in position to comment on individual cases.
"Please note the local authority do not operate without due process in terms of housing and allocations," their statement continued.
Lyndsey explains that even the simplest tasks like a grocery shop are much more complex when a hotel room is where you call home.
In July she underwent keyhole surgery for acute pelvic pain.
"I collapsed in my room in agony and had to ring reception for someone to come up to me.
"Then I had to wait for my aunt to arrive to mind Kali before I went. I had no neighbour that I could ask because I live in a hotel.
"The ambulance had to literally wait. It was just horrible," she said.
Amazingly Lyndsey still finds the strength to keep going.
"I just try to keep my spirits up, I tell myself that 2016 will be my year, the year I get a place of my own, the year I get my baby settled into a routine, the year I return to college and make something of my life," the brave young woman said.