Sunday 4 December 2016

'Please give me a chance of a normal life' - Homeless young woman (25) forced to sleep on the streets for three weeks

Laura Lynott

Published 11/11/2016 | 07:59

A homeless woman who fears for her life sleeping on the streets has issued a plea for help, saying she just "needs a chance".

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Sonia Eglington, from Ringsend, said she was forced to sleep rough for three consecutive weeks as a result of there being no available bed in any of the city's under-pressure homeless hostels.

"I sleep outside a church every night," she told the Herald.

Sonia said she was desperate and had not even been able to get a new sleeping bag after hers was stolen.

Sonia Eglington received coffee and sandwiches from volunteers in the city centre
Sonia Eglington received coffee and sandwiches from volunteers in the city centre

"I'm on edge every night trying to go to sleep because there's perverts going past me and you can't feel safe as a woman on the streets, the way some of them behave," she said.

"I don't feel safe out here at all and there doesn't seem to be anywhere for me to go - there's just not enough help."

Sonia fears she may have pleurisy, an inflammation of the lining of the lungs, which causes pain when breathing.

"It's caused by pneumonia and other diseases of the chest or abdomen," she said.

"I had that the last time I was on the streets and I went to the hospital. A few people have pneumonia out on the streets and I hope it isn't that.

"I want a normal life - I want to do things, to be someone, but I have nowhere to live and I can't move forward without a home. I need a chance."

Sonia was speaking as it was revealed that there has been an increase in the number of young women sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin.

On one night alone, it was estimated there were more than 130 rough-sleepers on the city's streets, including 16 women under the age of 24.

Figures released by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive show that the number of homeless families living in Dublin has surpassed the 1,000 mark for the first time since the crisis was brought to national attention two years ago.

Sonia admitted she had been hooked on drugs in the past, but said she is "clean now".

"I was in care all my life and then when I left care I was shoved from hostel to hostel. There was no stability, no home to call my own, no way of building my life. I just needed a home," she said.

Sonia said she could not access rehab to get off drugs. This help only came, she said, when she ended up in Mountjoy Prison.

"After I got out of prison, they sent me to a house where people were using snow blow, crack, everything," she said.

"I relapsed because of that. I just needed a home. But I did well in prison on rehab because it was a service I needed that just didn't exist for me otherwise."

Leading homelessness campaigners have raised serious concerns over the increase in homeless women sleeping rough on the capital's streets, with at least three pregnant women recorded last month.

Former Lord Mayor Christy Burke said the number of women with nowhere else to go has significantly increased over the past month.

"One woman we encountered on Dame Street was forced to sleep in a wet blanket, while two women in their late 20s are forced to move around at night because they're afraid of getting urinated on if they sleep in doorways," he said.

"We need action now, because it is a really desperate situation."

Herald

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