Mandy would be 'lost' without it
Mandy, a single mother with seven children, has been coming to Balbriggan Soup Kitchen since the centre first opened last September. She has lived in supported accommodation in the town the past two years, in a two-bedroom apartment that 'barely fits everyone in.'
Coming to the centre has meant she has been able to provide regular, healthy meals for her children, and for herself personally, has been a 'life-saver.' If the centre wasn't there, she says, she'd be 'wandering the streets' with her children.
Currently on the housing list, Mandy says she was very lucky to get the apartment in Balbriggan, but that it simply isn't big enough. She is hoping to find suitable accommodation in Swords, as all her supports, the clinic she attends and her doctor are situated there. The council, she says, have offered her a one-bedroom apartment in the town, but she had to turn it down due to its size.
Speaking to The Fingal Independent the week before Christmas, she said: 'I'd be lost without here. The staff are lovely. If you went into a normal restaurant, they'd just give you your food and that's it, but here, they sit down and have a chat with you. Before I started coming here, my health was very bad. I was in the doctor's every week with depression and walking up and down the beach feeling lost. I had no one to talk to, so coming here has really helped me.'
She said: 'It's not just about food. It's about mixing with people from different backgrounds. Most of us have mental health problems. There was another girl here today, and she's going into hospital for mental health issues and she was crying because she said she had nothing else only here.
'So we'll be able to visit her and bring up pyjamas and that, so it was nice for her to know she had us. Everyone gets on and helps everyone else out. We might have a little fall out every now and then, but we're friends again the next week.'
She said: 'Coming here is good for the kids, because they're able to come in and eat something healthy. And Mark (the founder of Balbriggan Soup Kitchen) is so nice. I came home the other day and there was a basket of food there for me. That would do me the whole of Christmas, so I really appreciated it.
'I'll be coming over the Christmas. I've no family, so at least it's somewhere to go.'