Tuesday 15 October 2019

Homelessness fears for mother and her three young children

Pádraig Byrne

Every day, Mary Cash wakes up in Wexford Women's Refuge, and gets her three young children up and ready for school before driving them the forty minute journey to primary school at Ballycanew NS. The family of four are homeless and have been for the best part of a year and for them, this is part of their daily routine.

'It feels like I spend all day in my car,' an exasperated Mary said. 'I have to get the kids to school. They said to me about moving them to a different school, but that wouldn't be fair to them. They've been there since the start and their teachers are very good to them.'

Having left her husband just over a year ago, Mary has had nowhere to go. After presenting as homeless to Wexford County Council, she and her children, aged eight, six and three, spent four and a half months in emergency accommodation at a B&B above a pub in Wexford town.

'It was no place for the children,' Mary said. 'We were all getting sick. It was awful.'

To escape from emergency accommodation, the family went to live with Mary's mother in Ferns for a time, however, with that house already overcrowded, it wasn't long before they were looking for somewhere to stay once again. This time, they presented at Wexford Women's Refuge, which has been home to them for the past three months.

'They've been very good to us here,' Mary said. 'But we've been told we have to leave by May 1 because they need the room back. I don't know what I'm going to do or where we'll go. I feel sorry for the children. We're all here in one room at the moment and I don't know what's going to happen. One of my little fellas is being assessed for ADHD and it's not good for him.'

Mary says she has had numerous discussions with Wexford County Council and that, while they say they are doing their best to find her appropriate accommodation and that she has been upgraded on the housing list, she's been advised to seek private accommodation in the interim.

'I've been trying and trying for private accommodation,' Mary says. 'I must've rang every house on Daft. Being a traveller, I'm at nothing. They won't even hear you out. They're discriminating against me.'

People Before Profit councillor Tony Walsh has been working with Mary in a bid to resolve the situation, but says it's symptomatic of the overall housing problem in the county.

'The thing about it is, we're giving landlords too much power to just judge people on the doorstep,' he said. 'It's causing huge problems and it's resulting in a certain sector of people being completely abandoned. We're coming across these situations on a weekly basis.'

Mary is now facing a ticking clock. With her time in the women's refuge coming to an end, she says she has nowhere to go and has no idea what will happen to her and her children. This is something which is placing her under great stress and resulting in trips to the doctors with anxiety.

In the meantime, she says she's trying desperately to maintain some form of normality for her children, loading them into the car each morning before making the journey to Ballycanew.

Gorey Guardian