'You feel like an alien - all the other kids have families'
SARAH from Dublin was just 18 years old when she became homeless, after spending half her life in care.
Moving around between foster families and residential care homes was all she had known since the age of nine and she was unprepared for life as a lone adult.
"I was very emotional and angry and wasn't able for it when I left state care. I just couldn't handle it and I ended up homeless.
"I dropped out of college and just went out drinking all the time," she added.
Sleeping rough was a frightening experience as she saw rampant drug abuse all around her. She didn't feel safe again until she moved into Focus Ireland's Chead Cheim project, which provides supported accommodation for young people who have recently left care.
Sarah is now settled there and wants to return to college and eventually get a job working with children. She believes the importance of a stable home cannot be underestimated.
"I never really had a home growing up and unless you have been in this situation you don't know how it impacts on you in life.
"When you are in care and going to school you really feel different to everyone. You feel like an alien because you know all the other kids have families and a home to go to and you don't.
"Then when you turn 18 and you have to leave care it's really difficult. I wasn't ready for it at all."
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