Sunday, 17 Nov 2019

Mothers tell of hardship as they struggle to feed families while homeless

A mother of two young children has told how she brings them to a street soup kitchen as she can’t afford to feed them everyday.

Denise Smith (38), is mother to Sophia (7), whom she says has been bullied for being homeless, and baby Alana, only 12 weeks old.

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Ms Smith, originally from Clondalkin, Dublin, has been homeless since November 2017 and lives in emergency accommodation in the city.

“Last Christmas we were in nine B&Bs,” Ms Smith said.

“All Sophia wanted was a yellow football and a bed and it seemed those small things were an impossibility.

“And I feel guilty but I know really this isn’t my fault, that we are far from alone.”

Ms Smith goes to a soup run in the city centre a few times a week as she wants to avoid feeding the children fast food, which is also too expensive.

“I’ve stayed in B&Bs all over Dublin,” she said.

“This isn’t the life I expected for myself or my children and it really feels the Government doesn’t care.

“It feels like they will only sit up when a child is seen sleeping rough on the street, but even then will they care?

“I always make sure my children have breakfast and lunch but sometimes the money just isn’t there for food in the evening.

“I don’t like having to bring the children to the soup run but at least I know they will be fed healthy food and all the volunteers are lovely.

“Alana was born premature and she’s been having seizures so I need to be housed and really soon and to be housed near hospital.”

Ms Smith said there are “so many homes boarded up” and families should be housed in those.

“Being homeless, some people think you’re a drug addict or an alcoholic and it’s not on.

“I’m doing my best. There are many reasons people become homeless and people must stop judging them.

“Anyone could find themselves in this situation.

“I have dreams, I am like anyone else. I want to set up my own business one day.

“I’d like to run a baby shop or open a cafe but first I need my children to have a roof over their heads they can call their home.”

Two mothers, who met while staying in emergency accommodation in Dublin, also brought their children to the soup kitchen on Grafton Street yesterday evening.

One of the women has a six-month-old girl, the other has five children – two boys and three girls all under the age of 10.

The children were eating spaghetti bolognese yards from the newly decorated Brown Thomas Christmas shop.

The mother of the baby girl said: “We have been coming here for a while because food is too expensive and this is where the kids can get something healthy to eat.

” I have a flat now but I can’t afford anything else but just living.”

The two mothers had met while staying in emergency accommodation in the capital.

The mother of five is still living in the hotel accommodation with her family.

“Me and the children and my husband live in a hotel in two rooms,” she said.

“We come here for food for the children as we don’t have any other choice.

“I pray to God things will change but I don’t know how they will,” she added.

The children seemed in good spirits, all smiling while tucking into their dinner, despite temperatures cooling at 8pm.

They had been looking at the Christmas window earlier and were looking forward to the festive season.

However, their mother wasn’t even sure where they would be living come December.

Martina Kane, who runs Grafton Homeless Outreach, told the Irish Independent last night: “I’ve been doing this for five years and nothing has changed.

“It’s getting worse. Some families come for cereal and school lunches and that will do them half the week.

“We do this because we want to help people and we know we are all only a pay cheque away from homelessness and we all know someone going through this.”

Glenda Harrington, from another support group, Friends Helping Friends, which was also operating on Grafton Street yesterday evening, said: “There are children being bullied in school for being homeless.

“Their parents are doing their best for them and come out here to get them healthy food at least.”

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