Seán never expected to find himself in this situation – retired in homelessness. He is one of the group of elderly people who Depaul is dedicated to supporting into their own home.
After working hard his whole life, Seán was looking forward to his hard-earned retirement. He wasn’t well-off by any stretch. But he had enough, and he didn’t want for much on his own. He didn’t know it then, but within the year, Seán would be homeless…
It started, as it so often does, when his landlord asked him to move out. He searched and searched for somewhere he could afford on his retirement income but had no luck.
As Ireland’s decade-long housing crisis grows ever deeper amid the pandemic aftermath, it’s a story we’re hearing more and more. And it’s pushing people like Seán into homelessness. At almost 70 years of age, he never dreamed his retirement would see him in such dire straits.
It was a sound he’d heard a thousand times before. But when Seán closed his front door behind him for the final time that cold winter morning, the clunk of the latch felt like a slap. It was the moment he had to face the terrible truth — he was homeless.
You can’t help but feel a soft spot for Seán the moment you meet him. He’s an old-fashioned sort of fella. He wears a smart coat, walks with a stick, and has cloud-like white hair. He tells us he has “bad eyes and bad lungs”. But that doesn’t stop him smiling.
It’s only when he talks of being homeless that his expression turns to one of sorrow.
“Being homeless hit me like a storm cloud. The feeling of helplessness was overwhelming. It really knocked me for six.”
He arrived at our Back Lane Hostel with nothing but a small suitcase, a carrier bag. And it’s thanks to you that its big red door was open to him on his very darkest day.
Your kindness kept him going Seán tried to stay busy. Mostly to keep his mind off things. He’d walk for hours, write letters, and apply for courses. But, he says, it was knowing that someone cared what happened to him, that you cared even though you may never meet him… that’s what gave him strength to keep going.
Your steadfast support in these past pandemic years has helped Depaul move more people on from homelessness than ever before. And it was after around a year that Seán got the wonderful news — a suitable home had been found for him.
“I immediately went out and got these big boxes of biscuits. I wanted to say thank you to everyone at the hostel, everyone who helped me.”
If you could only hear the gratitude in Seán’s voice today, you would feel proud of all you’ve given him.
“It’s wonderful here,” says Seán of his little house. “I have everything I’ll ever need. In the morning, the sun comes through the back door. In the evenings, through the front. It’s lovely.” In a testament to how your actions of compassion create ever more kindness in this world, Seán is looking to the future. “I’ve applied for a course on equality and human rights, and they just told me I’ve been accepted.
“I want to be useful. I want to help people in the same way you helped me… I’m so grateful for it.”
Seán was supported by our Back Lane hostel. To support people like Seán, please donate to Depaul today.