This time five years ago, I was counting down the days to the birth of my third baby – he was due on Christmas Eve, though at the time we didn’t know he was a he. And whether or not we’d have a boy or a girl wasn’t really on our minds at all – we were much more concerned about when he might be born.
We had a plan A that would kick in if he arrived before Christmas and I was home again by the 24th. We had a plan B for an overdue birth some time after Christmas. And a plan P for Panic if he arrived on Christmas Eve. What would we do? We’d have to transfer the kids to my dad’s house and Santa would have to come there. We knew it would be fine really, but still. The thought of having to take the kids out of their home at short notice and bring them somewhere else for Christmas wasn’t appealing, and we were worried about how they’d react. As it happens, the smart baby arrived one week early, and we were home for Christmas.
But that’s not the case for the 2,400 children who are currently homeless in Ireland. That’s two thousand four hundred – sometimes digits lose meaning. The face of homelessness has changed in Ireland in recent years – the stereotype of the single or separated person who has fallen on hard times no longer covers it. Now entire families – almost 1,200 at present – are homeless. Rents have been going up, and people who can’t afford to pay find themselves with nowhere to live. Children will spend Christmas Eve in emergency accommodation, with entire families crammed into single rooms. Yes, they have a roof over their heads, but it’s not really Christmas, and it’s far from ideal.
Focus Ireland have launched a Christmas campaign to highlight the deepening family homeless crisis. The new campaign makes an urgent appeal to people to donate to support Focus Ireland’s work challenging homelessness.
From their press release: At the launch, Sr. Stan spoke passionately of the terrible impact being homeless has on children – and families – as she said: “Christmas should be one of the happiest times of year for children and their families. However, it breaks my heart to think that up to 2,500 children will be homeless on Christmas day this year.”
She added: “I know from meeting families who are homeless that we support it’s the children who feel it the worst. Many times a family who are homeless are often squeezed into one hotel room – 3 or 4 people in one room, nowhere to cook or for children to play. There are also many single people and couples homeless and they all need a place to call home.”
Sr. Stan highlighted the vital role Focus Ireland’s lifeline services play in supporting people as Focus Ireland reported that its family team services have supported 230 families and just under 450 children in Dublin to secure a home and escape from the trauma of homelessness in the first 10 months of this year . The charity also supports hundreds of families who are still homeless and living in hotels and B & Bs.
If you’d like to donate, go to https://www.focusireland.ie/donate/ or call 1850 204 205.
My sister rowed the Liffey today as part of a fundraising initiative called All in a Row – Helping Homeless – I’m not going to row anywhere any time soon, but I can donate, and hope that by Christmas Eve, Focus Ireland will have helped some more families to find homes.
This post is part of a Blog March by members of the Irish Parenting Bloggers network, to raise awareness of homelessness and Focus Ireland’s campaign. You can read more posts by following the hashtag #FocusOnChristmas on social media. Thank you.