I had a long history of mental illness. I had a very difficult childhood, we were very poor and my home was not a nice place growing up. A lot of the issues didn’t surface until many years later. It’s been a long road.
I always had very good jobs, I worked in a bakery and loved it. And then my mental health began to deteriorate. I couldn’t continue working. And then it got worse and worse…
I was in trouble with the law and in and out of hospital. I was trying to keep going, to get better. After 25 years, I tried to go back to work again in a launderette and I loved it. I loved the hard work. I was there for another 25 years. I told them I wouldn’t miss a day and I didn’t. I didn’t miss a day.
I was living down in Dublin and I met my partner. We met down here in the Market in Christ Church. She had a heart of gold. And that was it. We lived together for years. Then one day, she was feeling sick and went to the hospital and she died within the week. It was cancer.
And that was it. The house was in her name and I couldn’t stay. The day she died I knew I would have to leave. It was terribly frightening. I didn’t know where to turn. I was so afraid of living on the street, because I was very vulnerable. I was terrified.
It was a shock. I didn’t know what I was doing, where I was going to end up. It was an awful experience.
I got a room. I was in a tiny room, maybe no bigger than a prison cell. And there was graffiti all over the walls. No cooker, just a breakfast cooker. The tiles were coming off the wall and on the floor. I asked them to paint it but they said I would have to pay for it all. I couldn’t afford it and I couldn’t stay.
I rang a friend of mine to look for help. And he came to meet me down by Trinity College and he got me help. I was never in a homeless hostel before, never thought I would be. I always say, no one knows what’s around the corner.
I was very unsettled when I came into Depaul first. I was drinking very heavily, there was an awful lot going on in my head that I couldn’t deal with. I was afraid I was going to have to go back to the hospital again. When I came in here that morning… the way I was looked after… I’m so thankful and I couldn’t ask for anything more.
There were many Christmases that I spent at home, and it didnt’ feel like Christmas at all. We were so, so poor.
I couldn’t get over the first Christmas I was here. On Christmas Eve I got a big bag, everyone here got one. In it there were socks and a scarf and cap for your head. The night man came around with them. He was like Santa Clause. It was so generous.
On Christmas Day we got a lovely dinner. All the tables were joined together, with table cloths and everything. There was Christmas crackers and everything. It was like a hotel, I couldn’t believe it. And it was so homely, I couldn’t believe it.
And even though we all have our problems, on Christmas Day it was quiet. We were all happy, because we were in a safe place. I was doing the deliveries too, going around in the van with the maintenance men, picking up the food and dropping it off in the different hostels. I wish I could do that now, but I’m not as able – I’m getting older.
I look forward to it every year.
Thank you to the donors
And now I’m in here, I know I’m so lucky. There’s always someone worse off than yourself, I know that now. The key working is excellent here – they’ll go for a walk with you and they really look after you. You have to take the good with the bad.
To donors I would say… I appreciate it. I just couldn’t believe it when I moved in here – I felt so happy and safe for the first time in ages. I’m thankful for what i have, i couldn’t ask for more.
And if I see someone on the street, I pass it on. I give them the time of day, and the change I have. It’s not their fault, they have their problems. I think… it could be me.