On Friday, fifteen children and their families gathered at Dublin’s Mansion House to launch a brand new, unique book about their lives and their experiences of homelessness in the midst of a housing crisis with 3,829 children homeless across Ireland. Proceeds from the sale of the book will directly support homeless children and families. The book was launched by Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland and Alan Nolan, Author.
Recent Focus Ireland figures for Dublin show that three families became homeless every single day in September, a total of 88 families with 193 children became newly homeless.
Focus Ireland works with people who are homeless or are at risk of losing their homes across Ireland. Kids’ Own is Ireland’s only dedicated publisher of books by children for children.
This book – which aims to reach an audience of children all over Ireland – contains a blend of poetry, stories, artwork and photography generated during a series of workshops in Dublin, delivered by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership in partnership with Focus Ireland.
In summer 2018, writer Mary Branley and visual artist Maree Hensey worked with the group of children, all of whom experiencing homelessness, supporting them to develop the work that would subsequently be brought together into this special publication. During the process, the children made observations, such as:
The park was near where we lived but we had to move. The guy was selling the house so we all had to move. It was like a piece of glass shattering. It’s sad and you feel like you might not see your cousins again. All day you don’t get time to rest, you have to pack and pack and pack. I had no idea where I was going. Amir, aged 8
I am eight years old. I moved a lot of times, mainly because the landlords sell the house and we have to go. There are three in my family and one baby sister on the way. I haven’t found a new school in Clontarf. Moving is very hard, because you lose the friends you’ve made, and it’s sad because I can’t go to school.
Oumar, aged 8
They also had joyful stories about their holidays and families:
The green of the grass is bright and rich and full of bright flowers scattered around the edge, creating a beautiful portrait of calmness and serenity. Even the flap of the butterfly wings and the gentle buzzing of the bees as they fly from flower to flower adds to the peaceful nature of the garden.
Jordan, aged 10
I was born in Moldova near Romania, but people speak Russian there. I am fluent in Romanian and I am learning Irish here. That means I speak three languages fluently, and I’m learning Irish. In Moldova, I had five chickens and they flew away, sadly. One turtle, eight kittens, three parrots (they barely spoke Russian).
Irina, aged 11
This project was commissioned by Focus Ireland, with funding support from Bord Gáis Energy and was delivered by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership.
Focus Ireland Services Manager, Roisín McDonnell explained: “While we celebrate the diversity and individuality of children, this project brought together a group of children who had one thing in common: they have all lived in temporary accommodation. This gave them a shared understanding of each other’s lives and a commonality which created a support system for one another. These junior artists, writers and poets knew that this book would help other children who were living in temporary accommodation not to feel alone and to help them look for some of the good things that were happening in their lives.”
Jo Holmwood, Acting Director of Kids’ Own, added: “As Ireland’s only dedicated publisher of books by children, Kids’ Own’s work is about supporting children to be seen and heard within our society and culture. This partnership with Focus Ireland offered us a unique opportunity to publish the voices of children living in temporary accommodation and to provide a platform for social issues affecting children in Ireland to be brought to the fore. The children’s work is amazing and this is a beautiful new addition to the canon of books by children for children that Kids’ Own has been developing for over twenty years.”
The book will be available to purchase from Kids’ Own’s website: www.kidsown.ie/shop with 50% of proceeds going to support homeless children and families.
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