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Monday 16 July 2018

'I never thought this day would come' - Man homeless for five years gets 'best Christmas present yet'

Paul Fumagalli (58) outside his new home
Paul Fumagalli (58) outside his new home

Amy Molloy and Zoe Brennan-Whitmore

"It’s safety, it’s security, it's a base - and it's something for me to build on."

Paul Fumagalli moved to Ireland from Birmingham sixteen years ago. He has spent the last five years sleeping on the streets and living in emergency accommodation.

Just a week before Christmas, the 58-year-old was given a place in Dublin that he can finally call home.

"I never thought this day would come," he told Independent.ie.

Paul became homeless back in 2012 after his landlord's house was repossessed.

The last number of years have been difficult for him, as he battled with drug addiction and lost his partner to cancer.

Thanks to the support of the Peter McVerry Trust, Paul believes his life is finally going to be "good again".

"It’s going to impact my life a lot [having a home]. Life is going to be good like. It'll be a normal life, and I'll be an ordinary person.

"I’m an ex-drug addict and I’m on a methadone programme now. It was either stop [taking drugs] or die. I chose to stop, and with the help of my doctor and the Peter McVerry Trust, I am where I am now. I'm drug-free, drink-free, everything-free."

Paul said he has been sleeping for up to 20-hours a day since he moved into his new house.

Normally an early riser, he believes his body must be adapting to finally having some "peace and quiet".

"I haven’t got to worry about the safety of my stuff, I can just relax and rest, and just be ordinary.

"Sharing a room with three other geezers, in the hostel, you are sort of stigmatized. Coming out and getting my own place, it’s safety, it’s security, it's a base - and something for me to build on.

"I don’t know how to put it into words. I mean, it’s only been a week but I’m changing already. I feel it in myself, it is awfully good."

Paul's home is one of 12 social units in Dublin 2 which were refurbished by Construction Industry Federation (CIF), who joined forces with the Peter McVerry Trust to help the homeless.

Staff from the homeless charity kindly donned his new house with Christmas decorations.

"It's lovely, isn't it," he beamed, as he pointed to the Christmas tree in the corner.

"I’m very happy to be here and to be given the opportunity, it is a good feeling. It has made my Christmas anyway, best Christmas I’ve had, and I’ve had a few."

National figures released this week reveal that the number of homeless people rose again last month.

There are now more than 5,500 adults 3,300 children without a home in the run up to Christmas.

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