Homeless in summer: ‘To have one or two days out to look forward to would be huge’

For a mother of young children, not being able to take them anywhere is ‘draining’

Erin Phelan with her children, Casey (4) and Dylan (1), who live in a family hub on Western Road. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Erin Phelan with her children, Casey (4) and Dylan (1), who live in a family hub on Western Road. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

 

For Erin Phelan (23), and her children Dylan (1) and Casey (4),support with the costs of buses and days out during summer would be “a huge help”.

The family, from Gurranabraher, Cork city, has been homeless for 19 months since their landlord sold their rented home in late 2017. They were in B&Bs first, and then, for the last year, in the city’s only family hub on Western Road, a 30-minute walk from her family and community.

“It’s better than a hotel but still you’re sharing with 18 other families. There’s noise and rows.”

Casey goes to school in Churchfield, which means two buses each way. Erin gets no help with this (homeless families in Dublin get free public transport during school term). Bus costs also limit how often they can visit friends and family. Neither of her parents, who are separated, has space for the family to stay.

It also makes childcare more difficult when Erin is at work, as she has to bring the children to family rather than have them minded in their home.

“It’s hard on the kids. If Casey wants to play with friends it has to be at their house because we can’t have friends over. She is constantly crying, asking why she can’t go on a play-date, why she can’t have her own room.

“For me, it’s draining and upsetting, having to think all the time, ‘What are we going to do today?’ We can go to places, say like Fota [wildlife park] but that costs a lot.”

Free travel and vouchers for outings would be “a huge help. Even just to have one or two days out to look forward to, that wouldn’t cost too much. It would be huge.”

She praises Good Shepherd Cork, which manages the hubs, saying it organises activities for the children. “But what we need is a home. When I first came to the hub the council said we’d be here about six to 12 weeks. We’re still here.”