My experience of being homeless

Jennifer shares her experience of being homeless

Written by Jennifer Akandu


In the last few years in Ireland, following the recession, a lot of families have become homeless. We see all over the news and newspapers but it all seems so surreal. Especially if you or someone close to you hasn’t been affected by it. For me this was the case until it happened to my family.

In October of last year, my family was told that we would have to move out of our home, which we had been renting for almost nine years. It had become my home as I spent half my life living there. To be told we had to move by the end of the month was heart breaking. I was sure that we would find somewhere to live before the end of the month but unfortunately this wasn’t the case. The end of the month came and we still didn’t find a house. My mum had done some research and contacted the Fingal County Council.

They told us to arrange to have our things stored and go to their office and they would arrange somewhere for us to stay. When we got there, we waited for a while. We gave them all our details and they informed us that they wouldn’t be able to find a place for us that night. It was Friday night and we had nowhere to go. Our closest relative lives in Wicklow, but it was too late to get a bus and my Mum doesn’t drive. We were stuck outside the council office. Until now I didn’t feel homeless. But standing there with a bag of my clothes, it finally hit me; we were homeless.

Luckily for us my mum was able to get help from Sonas, a group that helps women and children experiencing domestic abuse. We phoned them and they told us about Viva House in Blanchardstown which is a 24-hour emergency refuge for women and children. We went there and they were so kind and helpful. They told us we could stay there until the council found somewhere for us to stay. We stayed there for over a month.

Getting to school became a hassle

The first week living there I was on Halloween break, so it wasn’t too bad. But once that was over getting to school became a real hassle. I had to get a train with my two younger siblings who are still in primary school at six in the morning to Dublin and then another train to get to school. Our five-hour journey to and from school became very stressful and being in sixth year I found it very difficult. I was so ashamed to even tell my friends as I felt they would look down on me or feel sorry for me. It was very hard, as I felt very alone. My teachers knew and were very kind about it. Helping me with study plans and offering after school study, which really helped.

After a month of living in the refuge, the council found a B&B in Dublin for us to stay. It made getting to school much easier but sharing a room with my family was pretty difficult, I would even say I developed slight cabin fever. We spent Christmas in the B&B and it really made me appreciate everything I had. Seeing other families in the same situation made me feel less alone. Just after New Year’s with the help of the local church, we were able to find a house, which has now become my home. I don’t think I have ever been so grateful to have a roof over my head.

To anyone who is homeless I would strongly suggest that you talk to your friends, teacher or anybody you trust. You shouldn’t feel ashamed, they won’t judge you and it really helps to have someone to talk to.

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