Thursday 23 January 2020

VIDEO: 'I felt powerless' - mothers discuss heart-wrenching impact of living in emergency accommodation in new film

Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

A mother has said that living in emergency accommodation alongside her two young children made her feel "powerless and worthless".

Shauna is one of a number of women whose heartbreaking stories have been shared in a groundbreaking new film, Through the Cracks.

Through the Cracks was directed by Nathan Fagan and Luke Daly - otherwise known as Luna - and aims to highlight that emergency accommodation is "stalling childhoods" and having a devastating impact on families.

The film explores the experiences of three families who have or are currently living in state-funded emergency accommodation. In particular, the emotional and psychological toll which these families experience.

One of the women, who has only been identified as Shauna, said: "I felt that I wasn’t able to provide for my kids. That it was all my fault. I blamed myself.

"I thought: I’m their mother and I can’t keep a roof over their heads. I felt powerless and worthless and there was nothing I could do."

Another woman featured is Erica, who worries about how emergency accommodation may affect her children's mental health.

She explains: "Anxiety is something that all children in emergency accommodation have and suffer from. Every single one of them. You constantly live in fight or flight mode.

"You’re constantly anxious, constantly worrying. What’s going to happen tomorrow? How much longer will it be? Will I be here tomorrow?"

The short documentary was produced by poet and activist, Ingrid Casey and Irish production company Bold Puppy.

Ms Casey has experienced homelessness herself and says this issue needs to be highlighted and tackled.

"What is happening now with emergency accommodation amounts to continuing institutionalisation of women and children.

"Knowing that we have implemented such policies historically, with laundries and so forth, it kind of beggars belief that we could allow that to manifest again in the form of hubs etc, that are so unsustainable," she said.

Director of the ICHH, Inner City Helping Homelessness, Clare O'Connell, has praised the documentary.

She said: "We are actively stalling childhoods, preventing the development of friendships, confidence and self-worth and 'othering' children within society.

"We need to learn from our history of institutionalisation and give these children back their childhoods."

  • To watch the full film, please click here

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