Homeless: ‘It’s been really nice to have a bed and not have to go’

Destitute plumber on road to recovery after finding sanctuary with Peter McVerry Trust

For Vitali Skirpanovs (42), having a bed continuously for over a week in the extreme weather shelter was “really nice”.

From Latvia – one of the 10 accession states that joined the EU in 2004 – Mr Skirpanovs is not automatically entitled to housing or homeless services. He has spent the last six months trying to access emergency night-by-night beds, or sleeping rough.

A plumber and builder, he says he had worked in England for 12 years and Germany for two before coming to Ireland in June 2017. "In Germany if you do not have perfect German you do not get a really good job." He got work as a builder and was paid cash-in-hand.

“I was here a few months and one night, I had €3,000 in my wallet, I got hit with a bar in the back of my head. I woke up in a pool of blood. I lost my cash, my Safe Pass [a necessary document for all builders, to prove completion of a one-day health a safety course].”


No cash

After treatment in the Mater hospital, Dublin, he was discharged into homelessness, having lost his house-share. He had no money and could not work.

“You have to call the freephone every day at 4.30pm and again at 10.30pm to see if there is a bed or if there is only a sleeping bag. A lot of people I met from my country on the streets, are using or drinking. I drank a little bit.”

Access to the extreme weather shelter, which remained open until last week, meant he did not have to call to twice daily for a bed.

“It is hard because you are having to balance so many things, keeping calling every day. A really big thank you to the people in the Peter McVerry [Trust]. The people did a really big, big job. It’s been really nice to have a bed and not have to go.”

The Trust is providing him with a six-month bed at one of its new facilities. “I am going to get a new Safe Pass, my PPS number. I want to work and get a place to live. It was too hard on the streets. I can do it now.”

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times