“During the pandemic, I hit a few bumps on the road and my future suddenly became unclear and frightening.”
Late in 2021, for the first time in my life, I found myself in need of emergency accommodation. I resided at the Glen Oaks Hotel in Galway City, where COPE Galway ran the Cold Weather Response from November to April.
I had moved out of my own HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) property into my mother’s to care for her while she was ill. She passed away in late 2020. I left her HAP property due to the difficult relationship I had with her partner. I then spent four to five months sleeping in my car near Ballyloughane beach in Galway, with the odd night’s respite with my sister. I would often tend to my hygiene needs by bathing in Loughrea Lake and washing in the outdoor showering facilities there. While I had sporadic work painting and maintaining gardens during this time, I remained homeless.
In early to mid-2021 my father became ill. My brother and I cared for him throughout his illness, until he passed away in September. We were residing in my father’s house, a council house, and clearing out my father’s belongings, when we received an eviction order three days after he was cremated. I became homeless once more and spent two weeks on the streets in Galway City, using my free travel pass to go by train and bus to and from Dublin just to stay warm and get a bit of sleep.
This ultimately became too much for me, and I called to the Fairgreen Hostel to get some support. The staff there directed me to the Cold Weather Response in the Glen Oaks Hotel. There, I was warmly welcomed and given the tools for me to start putting my life back together. I had access to medical care again through the GP and Nurse clinics held each Thursday. Within a short space of time, I was allocated a keyworker to support me and with their help I was able to sort out my housing application for me and my teenage daughter. Despite no longer residing in my father’s property, I continued to receive post asking me to leave which caused me stress and upset. This continued for the entire period of my stay in the Glen Oaks.
“I formed strong and lasting friendships whilst in the service. I enjoyed getting involved with the Garden Project and with a little encouragement, began swimming once again.”
With the Cold Weather Response ending in April, as the months went on, it didn’t appear clear what my exit strategy would be as the pressures around finding a suitable place to live seemed insurmountable. My seemingly endless searches for available properties were leading nowhere. However, in the end I managed to find myself a shared property with three other residents, thanks to help from the staff within Glen Oaks.
My health, mentally and physically, has improved and I am back working part-time and feel much more positive about the future. I will forever be thankful and appreciative for the kindness, generosity and overall humane approach of the staff within the service, who gave me the time and space to allow me to get back on my feet and move forward with my life.