The Forgotten Irish
Every day, you come home from work or school or college and you might cook yourself some dinner, maybe watch some television or even have a nice hot shower and soon enough you’ll get ready for bed. You’ll get into pyjamas, you’ll curl into your warm duvet, put your head down on your soft pillow and you’ll fall into a peaceful sleep. This all sounds pretty normal and perhaps mundane right?
Well, for the thousands of homeless people in Ireland, an average evening is all they want. They want a place to call home. They want to be able to cook themselves some food. They want to have a bath or a shower and they want nothing more than to fall asleep in a comfortable, safe, warm environment. What we take so easily for granted is so hard to come by for many others.
In January 2018, it was recorded that there are 9,104 homeless people in Ireland. 3,267 of these are children. This figure has been increasing dramatically in recent years due to the catastrophic housing crisis that our country is currently trying to overcome. It has come to a point where seeing homeless people asleep in shop doorways has become the everyday norm.
Many homeless people were once just like you or me. They had a job, a family, a house, a car and maybe even a golden labrador. Then, the monthly rent amounts started to increase. More and more people were looking for homes and when the demand outweighed the supply, landlords upped the rent prices, taking advantage of the national housing emergency. Pretty soon, people couldn’t afford their rent anymore. They gave up the car, they sold their belongings, they cut back on spending and turned to their savings to make ends meet but sooner or later, many families had to give up their home and they became homeless.
Some are sleeping rough and others are living in emergency accommodation. Some are living with relatives and some homeless families have actually built small cabins for them to live in, in a relatives back garden.
Living without a safe, stable home is horrible to imagine but this is the reality for many Irish families. There has been numerous appeals to the government, petitions and protests that are begging the ministers to do something about this problem. They know it exists yet it seems as though our cries for help are falling on deaf ears.
Virtually nothing is being done.
Many of the politicians have said that they will tackle this problem. They have said that they will build more affordable housing and also more emergency accommodation so less people need to sleep on the streets, they will put a cap on the rent prices so the landlords can’t overprice a property but despite these measures, the numbers of people becoming homeless in Ireland are still increasing.
Many of these homeless families are hard-working, honest people who feel abandoned by our government. These families feel as though the system has let them down. They are judged and ignored on the streets. They are ridiculed and they are forgotten.
Luckily, we have some amazing charities and organisations that do their absolute best to fight homelessness in Ireland. Focus Ireland, The Peter McVerry Trust and the Simon Community to name but a few. They work hard to put people in accommodation and help them with alcohol and drug addictions. They offer support and help for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and they change the lives of many people through their services. These charities are doing everything they can but we can also help.
The next time you see a homeless person sleeping rough on the street, give them a bottle of water, or a sandwich or if you can’t do that, then just give them a friendly smile. We can show them that even if the system has forgotten them, we sure haven’t.
Lizzie tries to do her best to make a positive change in the community and she regularly volunteers to help the homeless and the elderly living alone. She’s also been part of an organisation called Junior Achievement and has gone to schools to teach children from disadvantaged areas.
She has taken part in numerous fundraising events for many different charities and organisations. She’s done everything from fasting to skydiving from 10,000 feet.
Her hobbies include gaming, reading, playing the ukulele, zumba, cooking and trying to befriend her grumpy pet hedgehog, Peeves.