Saturday 20 January 2018

Desperate mum faces third Christmas in emergency accommodation with son

Siobhan Donohue and her son Mason
Siobhan Donohue and her son Mason

Laura Lynott

A homeless mother has begged for help as she faces another winter "locked up" in emergency accommodation with her son.

Siobhán Donohue, whose son Mason (3) has been homeless his entire life, said the Government is abandoning women like her. Siobhán (41), who is originally from Clondalkin in Dublin, said: "I feel like homeless mothers and children are dirt to this Government.

"No child should be homeless, let alone more than 2,000.

"I feel I'm letting my son down - this will be his third Christmas homeless."

The mother said she had repeatedly fought for a home, but rent costs are too high. She has been on the Fingal County Council housing list for six years, but the family still have not been housed.

"I ended up living like this with my son because there was no choice in the end," she said.

"I wanted to be married when I had a child, to have a home, security - to provide all the best for my little boy.

"But that isn't always the way life goes - for some it takes a wrong turn and now I'm stuck in a poverty trap.

"I want to go to college - to get in a career, to provide all the things my son deserves, to have a home for him."

Siobhán and Mason currently live in inner city emergency accommodation. Siobhan said it was not a suitable environment to raise a child.

"I want my son to be able to run around with other children, to have a garden and bring his friends over," she said.

"Instead, we are in the inner city and it just isn't safe.

"We have a flat here in this emergency accommodation and it's better than being homeless on the street, but it is like being locked up because you're monitored and it isn't your mum or dad you're coming home to, it's staff and not only that, it's constantly changing staff.

"They call you in the day to check you're alright and at night they knock on the door to see your child is asleep.

"I don't want this for my son anymore. He needs a stable home."

Siobhán, who has been homeless since a separation, said she often cries herself to sleep.

"I barely have the spirit to put Christmas decorations up. I'll do it for my son. I have to wear a smile for Mason because he's only a little child," she said.

Mason was born when his mother was living in a Dublin bed and breakfast.

Recent figures from the Housing Department showed 2,426 children were homeless across the state - most of these were in Dublin.

"While it is the council's policy not to comment on individual cases, we can say that Fingal County Council have had contact with the applicant recently and further contact is planned as the council continues to explore a move on from the present supported accommodation," a spokesman for Fingal County Council said.

Meanwhile, the national housing charity Threshold reported a 26pc rise nationally in the number of tenants seeking advice and support for rent reviews in the past year.

The charity said the Government must act immediately to address this nationwide challenge as families are pushed to the brink of homelessness.

Irish Independent

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