| 6.8°C Dublin

Homeless cancer sufferer living in her car because it is 'safer' than hostel


A brave young cancer survivor has been living in her car for the past six weeks because she fears for her health after being put into drug-ravaged homeless hostels where she was attacked.

Struggling Ciara Grant got to spend just Christmas Day in the comfort of a house after relatives intervened during the festive season.

Ciara (35) had been working for the Central Remedial Clinic but her plans to buy her own apartment fell through when she battled against breast cancer.

"I am living in my car due to the system not helping people when they're homeless," said Ciara, who is originally from Donnycarney, north Dublin.

"I've had a couple of nights with family over Christmas, and it was great and I had a nice time but, unfortunately, I haven't got the option to stay at home."

Ciara adds she is recovering from breast cancer and is on "aggressive, torturous medication", which leads to horrendous side effects. She said that she had been evicted from her privately rented accommodation and had to look for emergency help.

"I thought my prayers were answered when I spoke to a lovely girl in CPS (Central Placement System), which is a part of Dublin City Council."

She adds: "What I didn't know was I was entering drug-ravaged homeless accommodation."

"I have pictures of drug paraphernalia and other unhygienic material which littered the accommodation they put me into."

Two women died in a homeless centre into which Ciara had been put last July.

Ciara stresses that because of her health she cannot afford to be so close to danger.

"They still continue to try and put me into these hostels," she remarks. "It's actually safer staying in my car."

Describing one such place, she said: "The room is basically in a place where there is all sorts of unsavoury activity and is completely unhygienic, with crack pipes lying around and filthy showers.

"They put me, a cancer patient, in the lowest threshold hostel where smoking crack and injecting heroin is just an average day.

"I was attacked one night, too, in that place where guards removed me for my own safety."

Ciara stresses she would rather sleep in her car than face such dangers.

She took pictures of crack pipes and special 'sharp bins', where needles are discarded, in the hostels.

There have been some nights when friends have tried to intervene.

She added that "I do have good friends and I've had nights on couches and so on" but that she has been begging for a housing allocation.

Terrified

"That was when I was going through chemo, but apparently my medical letters are not good enough. I'm not sick enough to be shielded away from Covid.

"I am terrified I will catch Covid and I don't know I'd survive it, being very high risk, with the underlying conditions I have.

"I just need some help, I need the State to just keep me cocooned and safe accommodation until I get back on my feet."

Ciara says state agencies offer her "a bed, but in the same sort of places where I was attacked, where drug use is daily because it's a low threshold and it's allowed". She adds: "These girls are not very well and my heart does go out to them."

"I've spent six weeks begging for a safe isolated place to stay until I get myself back on my feet."

Ciara is even prepared to accept a council paid hotel room, but she has been told they only cater for "families".

She also complains that she is on a "degrading" scoring system and by her points she is down the pecking order.

"I have been informed... that my score has remained unchanged, therefore it is not possible to provide me with a placement in a shielding facility," she adds.

Ciara lists the medication she is on and the gruelling side effects.

"Do you know what Tamoxifen does to a 35-year-old woman?" she asks. "Do you know my cancer treatment is ongoing for the next eight years if I survive it."

"The lack of duty of care for me from every housing authority in this State has been disgusting and degrading.

"My mental health has hit a place that terrifies me and I am stronger than most of them poor souls on our streets."

Two years ago, Ciara tried to take steps to alleviate her housing situation.

"I asked back then for help with a place when I was going through aggressive chemotherapy and radiation and lost every bit of myself. I was refused five times through appeals," she points out.

"Apparently, paying tax and actually working for the HSE and living a moral life is so you pay for those who don't work and never have."

She is now fearful of what lies ahead.

A kind hearted councillor paid for two night's accommodation in a motel for Ciara on Wednesday and Thursday night, but she was back out on the streets on Friday.

There is a chance she may be offered a flat next week, but needs to €480 for a deposit, money she desperately needs to raise.

Disease

Last year, Ciara spoke to the Sunday World while she was still employed by the Central Remedial Clinic and she even took part in a charity version of Hairspray to raise money to fund research into the disease.

Back then, Ciara was battling fatigue, and eventually had to give up the job she "loves" because of her illness.

An Independent councillor, Alan Lawes, based in Navan, Co. Meath, is one of the people who have tried to help Ciara after he was outraged at seeing social media pictures of the accommodation she was put into.

"I work in Cappagh hospital in Finglas, for the past 37 years and when I saw the photographs Ciara posted of the accommodation she was offered, I was very angry," he said.

"I'm working in an environment trying where we are doing our best to keep Covid-19 at bay, and I'm looking at a cancer patient being thrown into accommodation like that, and I'm sickened at that. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

"We are talking about a cancer patient who should be in the most sterile environment that you can think of and I looked at the sharp bins and the filthy trays, and they were the showers Ciara was supposed to use," he said. "It's awful that someone should be put in a place like that."

A spokesman for Dublin City Council told the Sunday World:

"We are very aware of all aspects of Ms Grant’s case, she has been offered 5 separate placements, the most recent placement is a single room with shared cooking facilities.

"Unfortunately Ms. Grant is unwilling to stay in emergency accommodation and previous placements have broken down for a number of different reasons.

"We really want to Ms. Grant to accept this safe, sheltered accommodation and we will continue to work with her to try to get her to accept a place.

"Our Outreach teams have also been in touch with Ms. Grant on a number of occasions and will also continue to support her into this placement.

"As I am sure you can understand with the large number of single people staying in emergency accommodation, the large majority of accommodation is shared. We would urge, if you are speaking to Ms Grant to encourage her to accept the single room placement."

Most Watched Videos

Privacy