A young mother who spent seven months in a hub for homeless families in Dublin has said it was "the best thing" to happen to her.
Shauna Ebbs (21) said she and her two-year-old daughter Amber received a lot of support to find a home of their own while at the Respond Family Hub in Tallaght.
She was attending the official opening yesterday of the hub by Children's Minister Katherine Zappone and told her it had helped her to cope with the difficulties in her life.
Shauna had spent several months in hotels and guesthouses, and she said the hub allowed her at last "to cook a decent meal for my child instead of getting another takeaway meal".
She and Amber are among nine families who have already moved out of the hub, having been helped to find homes of their own to rent.
Shauna said she had been living in overcrowded conditions in her mother's home in Tallaght and had sought emergency accommodation for herself and her then infant daughter.
She was placed in a hotel in Naas and then emergency housing services moved her to the Gresham Hotel in Dublin.
"It's a posh hotel and I arrived with a buggy and suitcases. I didn't feel very comfortable or at ease when I moved in," she said.
"After six days, I was moved to a bed and breakfast in Gardiner Street, where we stayed from last November to the middle of January."
She was then told she had been given a place in a Respond Housing Association family hub in Tallaght.
"When I arrived the staff were so friendly and helpful. It was a lovely place. When they asked me when I wanted to move in, I said 'right now'," said Shauna.
Being able to do her own laundry and come and go as she pleased gave her a sense of independence and freedom, she added.
Staff member Stephanie Watson (30) helped Shauna to find a rented home of her own by organising viewings of accommodation and talking with landlords.
Now Shauna has a one-bedroom apartment run by another housing association.
While she hopes one day to get "a forever home", she loves having a home for herself and Amber.
"I'm so much looking forward to putting up our own Christmas tree," she said.