"I think it’s really important that you know exactly what is happening here and what it’s like for the families who live here.".
This is Paula's story.
I want to tell you about one family. A young mum – let’s call her Paula – and her two sons.
The first time I met Paula was just two days after she and her kids had become homeless. She was sitting in the small office we have here in the family hub.
She was clutching all these documents and forms in her hands. Council applications, social welfare forms, birth certs – it was her entire life. She just sat there with tears running down her face.
It was weeks before she could talk to me about her situation without crying.
“What am I supposed to do now? How am I supposed to protect my kids?”
That was nine months ago. Since then, they have been living here in one small room. And it has taken a huge toll on them.
Don’t get me wrong. The hub has been renovated. It’s clean and bright.
And the staff here are fantastic. But it was never meant for this. Families are only supposed to be here for a few weeks at most. We now have entire families – and all their possessions – living in one room for what could be years.
If I could bring you into a room here you’d be horrified. It’s two bunk beds, a window, a fridge and a toilet. That’s it.
This is the type of room that Paula's family lived in. It's called a 4-person room. But it can house up to 6 if the kids share the beds.
Could you imagine living in a room like this with all your family?
You sleep here. You eat here. You do your homework here. There’s no break. No separate bedrooms. No privacy. Day after day, for months or even years?
Research has shown the impact that has on people’s mental and physical health and wellbeing is devastating.
Paula’s son has found it very difficult. He missed his friends. His mental health has really suffered. Thankfully, because of supporters like you, one of our Child Support workers has been able to work with him to build up the support he needed. But its’s not just Paula’s son.
And we have children who are now being born into homelessness. It’s terrifying. And it’s happening to family after family.
Paula is one of the most independent and resilient people I know. But there have been so many times that she has been at breaking point. If you could spend a day here you would see so many heartbreaking stories just like Paula’s.
I’m telling you all this so you will know exactly what is happening and so that you will hopefully understand just how important your support is – especially if you are one of those amazing people who donate to Focus Ireland again and again and again.
Because it’s your donations that are helping to keep everything going.
We have only a small team here and we are stretched so thin. So every bit of support we get is absolutely vital.
A few weeks ago I got to tell Paula that, after 9 months of searching and hundreds of meetings and phone calls and emails, we were finally able to help her find a home of her own.
You may be surprised how often that happens. Every week, thanks to supporters like you, our Family Homeless Action Team is able to help more and more families move away from homelessness. And it’s an incredible thing to see. When I told Paula she couldn’t believe it. She started crying again. But this time they were tears of joy.
Today I have visited Paula and her family in their new home.
This is the kitchen in Paula's new house. The kids already have pictures up on the fridge.
I wish you could have seen it. Her kids were upstairs playing in their rooms. All you could hear was laughter. And all you could see on Paula’s face was relief. For the first time in over a year, she can finally start planning for her future.
So, I just wanted to take a moment tonight to share that with you. Because you are part of that. You helped to make that happen.
The room that Paula and her family stayed in is empty tonight. But there is a long waiting list of families trying to get in here. So, it will be full again very soon. In this area alone, there are thousands of families waiting for social housing and hundreds and hundreds who are homeless.
But numbers don’t tell the full story, because it is people we are talking about. Real families. Real lives being torn part. Ordinary families like Paula and her two boys.
So, I want to make a very special request. And this is so important. Please, please, please continue to give as much as you can. As often as you can.
Because it’s your kindness and generosity and care for others that is making the difference. Tonight, thanks to our amazing community of kind and generous supporters, Paula and her family are safe in their own home. She can close the door knowing that her children are safe.
And she can breathe again.
Focus Ireland’s Family Homeless Action Team Key Worker
Please help today.
If you can, please make a life-changing donation today so that together we can care for and support families trapped in homelessness.