Call for urgent action after figures show 'sharp rise' in numbers sleeping rough
“I got into drugs and drink and I’ve been homeless, on and off, for 24 years,” she says.
She has three children in care.
“My baby is seven. I haven’t seen in him in five years.”
Someone who was violent to her has just been sentenced to two years in prison. “I’m very happy.”
Asked if he treated her badly, she laughs. “That’s putting it mildly. Thank God I can sleep in peace now.
“I want to get a flat, get off these streets. I have friends. Young fellas look out for me. One of them just gave me this,” she says, producing the vodka, “so it’s a happy night.”
‘Keeps me safe’
Mick (38), a Dublin man, is getting ready for bed on the ground outside a Londis shop at the top of Grafton Street. Pointing to a closed-circuit television camera on a high pole further up, he explains: “That keeps me safe.”
“It can be very dangerous but I don’t want to sleep in hostels. They can be worse. You can have things stolen and be attacked.”
He has been sleeping rough, he says, for 20 years – since he left home. “If it wasn’t for these guys I’d be frozen, I’d be dead,” he says, gesturing to the outreach workers, Danny Quirke and Emer Humphreys.
They work for the joint Focus Ireland-Dublin Simon street project and have just given him a backpack with a sleeping bag and socks.
Asked if he has family, he says: “I don’t really get on with them. I think that is most of my problem. My father is a man who is hard to get on with.”
Later, we meet David, lying on cardboard, with boxes at his head and feet as he lies outside the House of Ireland shop on Nassau Street. He is almost incoherent with alcohol but says he is 40 and has been homeless for “25 or 26 years”.
He says he is originally from Ballymun and had been living with his father. “He wasn’t happy with me because I kept mitching from school. He’d hit me and I ran to live with my ma. But she didn’t want me there.”
Asked why he had been mitching, he closes his eyes for about half a minute before opening them and sighing. “I was being bullied,” he says.