Wednesday 21 March 2018

What it really feels like when there's no room at the inn for a family

Illustration: Scratch.
Illustration: Scratch.

Imagine not being able to go home for Christmas. This is the reality facing more than 5,100 men, women and children who are stuck in emergency accommodation this year. They have no home to go to. 2015 has seen the numbers of people who are homeless grow month after month and the Simon Communities around the country have seen the impact on people trying to live their lives in really difficult situations.

This includes 774 families with over 1,600 children trying to go about daily living; sleeping, eating, playing, doing homework, all in the one tiny space. This also includes almost 2,500 adults without dependents, some of whom are sharing dormitory-style accommodation or only have the guarantee of a bed on a night-by-night basis.

I visited an emergency accommodation unit that opened up as part of the 20-point action plan announced by Minister Alan Kelly last December. This was one room with more than 20 beds lining the walls, both sides, and some down the centre of the room. Here, people come to sleep, wash and eat. People can only come in the evenings and have to leave first thing in the morning.

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