Friday 23 August 2019

'Our whole life is one room... there's no festive feeling' - Young mum shares reality of a homeless Christmas

Joanna Delaney said there's an unfair stigma surrounding homeless people
Joanna Delaney said there's an unfair stigma surrounding homeless people
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A mum who is currently homeless with her 12-year-old son has shared the reality of their Christmas Day.

Joanna Delaney from Co Dublin has been homeless for the past 17 months with her 12-year-old son.

“We’re currently living in a hotel and it’s fine, but it’s very crowded because my whole life is one room,” Joanna told Independent.ie.

“You have to make the room your home even if it’s tiny. It’s strange that a big hotel with loads of strange people becomes your safe haven.”

Joanna, who works part-time in the health services, says Christmas time is especially difficult when you’re homeless.

“It’s worse at Christmas because there’s nowhere to put up a tree or hide Christmas presents."

Joanna said she will be having Christmas dinner at her aunt’s house but there will be no Christmas morning for her son.

“We won’t wake up on Christmas morning with presents under the Christmas tree. We can’t have friends or family over. There isn’t even a place to hang up stockings. There’s no Christmas feeling.”

In the hotel Joanna has no cooking or cleaning services, which means the family eat out every night.

“We get breakfast in the hotel and my son gets lunch at school, but in the evening we eat takeaways. It’s not a balanced diet at all and we're always so tired.

“My son can’t even have a football because there’s nowhere for him to play with it.”

Joanna said her young son began to have problems at school after he became homeless.

“He used to be at the top of his class but he stopped trying. He feels out of place as if there’s something wrong with him.

“He’s a very clever boy and loves sports. The worst thing he’s ever get into trouble for was for talking in class but now the school is threatening to suspend him for fighting. He’s just angry all the time.”

She explained her son needs his own space as “he’s growing up”.

“It’s hard sharing a room with him. He’s changing and he needs his privacy. He needs time away from his mother.”

She said there’s a huge stigma on homeless people that they’re “lazy” and “expect things for free”.

“We’re normal people with normal jobs and hobbies. We’re just finding it difficult on the housing front.

“I’d live in a shed as long as there was a place for me and my son to sleep, eat and clean in. We just want a home.”

Anyone affected by these issues can contact Focus Ireland at www.focusireland.ie or on 01 881 5900

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