Sunday 25 September 2016

'You just try and let your children have as normal a life as possible'

Published 28/09/2015 | 02:30

Mary Atinuke Abumere, left, with her sons, Israel (11), right, and Isaac (8) at their new home in Ballyfermot, Dublin
Mary Atinuke Abumere, left, with her sons, Israel (11), right, and Isaac (8) at their new home in Ballyfermot, Dublin
Jennifer Morris, who has been staying in a homeless shelter for the last four months
Stacey Ward, who has been in a shelter with her five-year-old daughter since June

Many of the country's homeless centres are now equipped with play areas and facilities for children - testament to the fact that more are now becoming homeless.

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Jennifer Morris (37), from Rathmines, Dublin, has been staying in a homeless shelter for the past four months with her 11-year-old son, Josh.

They have been homeless for two years after she attended a rehab clinic for an alcohol addiction and was then evicted from a rented house by her landlord in 2013.

Much of the period since has been spent moving around different hotels and guest houses.

"One place we were staying in was a bit manic and it got to the stage that Josh started banging his head off the floor and hitting his fists against the wall in frustration," said Jennifer.

"He is 11 years old and I have never seen him so angry.

"For a parent to look at your child and see something like that is so upsetting," she added.

Jennifer said she is afraid of the impact homelessness will have on Josh in later life. She said having a normal family life isn't possible.

"Being in such a close environment is tough because the children are getting sick the whole time," she said.

"My son now has to get extra help in school as a result of being sick and homeless," she added.

"You try and let your children have as normal a life as possible in this situation, but you can't really."

Stacey Ward (27), from Limerick, has been staying in a homeless shelter with her five-year-old daughter, Tiffany Angel, since June. They became homeless last October.

However, she said the night-by-night homeless accommodation she has been in for more than six months is not suitable for a family.

"It was a nice B&B and the people there were lovely but it was not suitable for me and my daughter," said Stacey.

"You couldn't cook because there was only one cooker among more than 100 homeless people.

"It was always takeaways and it is not healthy (to live like that)," she added.

Mary Atinuke Abumere moved into her new home in Dublin's Ballyfermot two weeks ago, after spending 10 months homeless with her two sons Israel (11) and Isaac (8).

"I used to drive my sons to school every day and then wait there for them to finish because it was cheaper than making the trip twice," she said.

"The Government cannot fix this on their own and need more help," she added.

"People do not know who can help them or where they should go.

"There is nothing good about the situation," she added.

Irish Independent

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