We are very pleased to hear that Depaul Ireland, part of the 13 Houses Campaign, has managed to hit the target of 27 properties that they aimed to acquire, to help people experiencing homelessness secure a safe place to call home. This will support them to now start thinking about their future and get their lives back on track.
It is really exciting to see this project growing and helping so many people in need: the properties (of which 20 already have tenants) are for both single people and families and we would like to share a story with you that reminded us that, unfortunately, homelessness can happen to anyone. It is therefore vital that we continue to provide services that break the cycle of homelessness and promote systemic change, so that no one will experience, like Sean, homelessness again.
Being homeless: the sound of a door slammed shut
After working hard all his life, Sean was looking forward to his hard-earned retirement. He never imagined that soon, at almost 70 years old, he would become homeless. Ireland has been suffering from a housing crisis for decades, which has caused many people, like Sean, to suddenly find themselves without a roof over their head. Unfortunately, Depaul Ireland hears stories like Sean’s more and more often, with people’s lives left shattered and without hope.
Sean’s story began when he was evicted by his landlord, as after looking for accommodation from neighbourhood to neighbourhood he was unable to find a new home that he could afford on his retirement income. It was when he heard the sound of the door slamming shut behind him that he realized he had nowhere to go: he was homeless.
‘Being homeless hit me like a storm cloud. The feeling of helplessness was overwhelming. It really knocked me for six’.
Shortly before the lockdown in January 2020 Sean discovered Depaul’s Back Lane Hostel in Dublin, where he found a friendly environment that gave him back some hope. Sean felt instantly welcomed and grateful to have found such a nice place to start building his life back: he quickly wanted to get more active and tried to keep himself busy at all times, enrolling in courses, taking long walks and writing letters to distract his thoughts from what had just happened to him: he had lost everything.
Despite all the challenges, the Depaul staff and volunteers were able to lift Sean’s morale: the team describe him as a man who is always smiling and has contagious joy, able to spread hope to those around him despite what has happened to him.
Thanks to the support he received at the hostel, after a year Sean was able to secure a private rented house that gave him back the right to a dignified life.With the news of having found a new home, Sean wanted to share his joy with everyone at the hostel, and to thank those who had given him hope during that dark year, also aggravated by the spread of COVID-19.
Today Sean is truly happy with his new home: he loves to watch the sunrise and sunset from his back garden and he is looking forward to a brighter future.
Sean is truly grateful for the help he received at Depaul and so he recently joined the befriending programme in Dublin so he can help other people in need in the community through peer support. The programme is in fact aimed at preventing homelessness by developing strong and meaningful relationships in the community.
Sean was also recently accepted into a course on equity and human rights and we are sure this will be the start of another wonderful journey, sharing his smile, his energy and his strength with those in need.
‘I want to be useful. I want to help people in the same way you’ve helped me… I’m so grateful for it’.
We are truly thankful to have listened to Sean’s story, a story of pain but also of so much hope, with the desire to help others and to give back to his community. We admire the courage and expertise of Sean and all the others from the 13 House Campaign, who with their stories, remind us of their courage and their suffering to which we must give voice, so that the right to a dignified life is guaranteed to all and not few.
Through the 13 Houses Campaign, we promote projects that aim to break the cycle of poverty and have the ultimate goal of promoting systemic change.. Sean’s story reminds us that unfortunately anyone can find themselves in a vulnerable situation and that is why it is important to promote services that can respond to the needs of those in difficulty. You can read more about Depaul Ireland’s Dublin hostel here: https://ie.depaulcharity.org/projects/back-lane-hostel/ .
Contact us if you have a project in mind that can help homeless people, refugees or displaced people: join the 13 Houses Campaign, one house at a time!