Depaul supports more than 1,000 women who are currently experiencing homelessness. The reasons a woman may become homeless are many. When someone knocks on the front door of Depaul, they are treated with compassion, respect and are given the dignity they deserve.
For Mary, when she escaped a violent home after ten years, she found safety and the chance to regain her independence once more.
“I didn’t have control over anything. I didn’t have money. I didn’t have freedom to go anywhere,” says Mary. “I lost all my friends and family. I was so isolated. My confidence was gone. I didn’t know who I was anymore. One day I just got the courage to get myself out, I said ‘that’s it’ and I walked out. I walked out with absolutely nothing. Just with my handbag and what was on me.”
When Mary came through the doors of Depaul, she was welcomed with compassion and care. Each of our support workers are trained in Trauma Informed Care, ensuring that each person, no matter what they have been through are made to feel safe.
“I didn’t know anything about Depaul. When I walked in the door, I was just so nervous. I was scared. I’ll never forget it for how I was feeling.”
“I wasn’t expecting the welcome I got. They made me feel like I was home straight away. I felt so relaxed, and so safe. It was life-changing for me.”
Mary was welcomed into a private room of her own, with a kitchenette and living space so she could feel at home.
Coming from her situation, it took time to deal with the changes in her life.
“I was scared because I’d never been in this situation before. But the Depaul team were always here for me. To have a laugh, or more likely a cry because of all I’d been through.
“The best thing was the security and the support – that I knew at any time of day or night, that I always knew there was back-up, there was someone there for me.”
When Mary was ready, she was supported in getting linked in with the services she needed to move forward. Services like GPs, social welfare, counselling and others that someone in Mary’s position might need.
“There was nothing they wouldn’t do to help me. From filling out forms… because this was all new. If I needed any advice or anything. There was always help.”
Mary used the time she was at Depaul to rebuild her social network.
“I didn’t’ have anyone to talk to. I didn’t have anyone in my life. I’d lost my family and my friends, everyone. I was completely isolated.
“I began to meet people when I started courses. And suddenly I was around good people. And I would go to the church, I loved that. I would meet really good people there.
“Coming home to Depaul in the evening and having the facilities to cook what I wanted to eat. And I’m a divil for the soaps. Being able to turn on the telly in the evening. That was heaven.”
Soon, Mary was ready to move into an independent home of her own. In a year she had gone from leaving her life behind in fear, to stepping into a new one, with confidence.
“Now I have my own home. I left with nothing and now I have a little apartment of my own. I have my own key to the door.”
“A place with all my belongings. I spent my first Christmas there. I got my confidence back. I’ve come full circle, thank God.
“I never lived on my own before. When I moved out of Depaul to my own place now, I was so nervous. But I didn’t have to be. Because even now, I can pick up the phone and talk to someone here, I can ask questions. I still have that support.
“Without that help, I honestly don’t know where I would be now. I really don’t know.
“To be able to have the freedom to go out for a coffee, I was never allowed to do that before. Having the freedom to come and go, and to make my decisions for the first time.
“Now I’m trying everything. I’m doing a computer course and a cooking course. I never would have had the confidence before. Now I’m doing everything that comes my way. Being with Depaul has given me the confidence that says I can do this.
“I’m still working on my mental health, but its improved so much in the time I’ve been here. Even when I didn’t believe in myself, they always believed in me.
“I’m proud of myself, in how far I’ve come.
“No matter how small it is, please do donate. You don’t know if you will ever be in this situation yourself. You just don’t know.”
Depaul runs 3 specialised services for women in the Republic of Ireland, Birch Haven, Suaimhneas, Tus Nua, and one family service, Rendu. There are two family accommodation services in Northern Ireland, Mater Dei and Cloverhill as well as Family Floating Support, which offers onward care for families moving out of homelessness.
To support people like Mary, please donate to Depaul today.