A young woman has spoken movingly on RTÉ Radio about the reality of living in homelessness.
'Amanda', who is a fifth year school student, spoke about feeling as if she has "no life left" and that her live has been "stolen" from her. Amanda has spent the past two years living in a hotel room with her mother, her brother, and her older sister who returns to the family from college at weekends.
The family lost their home after Amanda's mother 'Teresa' was unable to keep up with mortgage payments following a marriage breakdown. Amanda and Teresa are not their real names. The family do not wish their identity to be widely known.
Below is what Amanda told RTÉ News:
You want to voice what's actually going on - the truth with everything. But you're sometimes afraid and just your voice is gone.
Reporter: What kind of things do people say that you want to address?
Well in my old school, for example, a couple of lads started shouting. "Ah yeah, you're living the high life if you're homeless." You know: "You get your bedroom paid. You're living in a high-class hotel. You're getting your food paid for you and everything. You can just sit around doing nothing, waiting for a house that's paid for you."
And I'm sitting there in tears, can't hide it because it's not the high life. You're living with the stench of people cooking food in rooms, rotting away with mould, and everything else. I feel like I've been stolen of most of my life. These are the years that I’m supposed to be focusing on getting a decent education, making friends, going out and living my life, but I can’t even do normal things like open a bank account because I don’t have an address. I don’t have anything that helps me in life. It’s really annoying when I can’t tell friends the truth about my life.
Reporter: Why can't you?
It's too embarrassing. You never know with people, some could say: "Oh yeah, it's fine." But others could say that: "How are you homeless? Is your Mom scheming the country? Are you another beggar? Are you this, are you that?" And you're just really scared.
Reporter: Have you opened up to your close friends?
Some of them, yes. Some that I've known since first year. They knew straight away what was going on and they've thankfully been so open about it and helped me through everything. But friends that I've met in my new school I've only told one person and one teacher so far. And the one friend that I have told she has introduced me to new friends but I haven't told any of them because they seem to have such decent lives. You'd be scared in case they told their parents or something like that and their parents would look down at you.
Reporter: How do you look at your future? You told me that when you leave school you’d like to do psychology.
I dream of becoming a counsellor. A teacher and a counsellor. I would love to help kids in school overcome their challenges and stuff like that. After my experiences, I would hate to see a child alone. I would love to just be there - at least – be that one person for that child.
Reporter: But Amanda worries that her homelessness will prevent her from making it to college. She's repeating fifth year this year - an indirect result of her family's situation.
Time is already flying by. It's already October and Christmas will come and then summer. And then next thing I know I’ll blink and it’s my Leaving Cert. And if I have to do my Leaving Cert in here, there's no chance of me going to college. There’s no chance of me going forward in my education cos it’ll just be useless.
Reporter: You really don't think you'd manage it in this hotel?
I wouldn't. I really wouldn't.
Reporter: You mean in terms of studying?
In terms of studying and even my own mental health. It's deteriorating for everyone. It's really diminishing and degrading having to wake up and look at the dirt around you over the mould, as I said, in between walls, behind curtains and everything else. It’s horrible.
Reporter: When you say your mental health is deteriorating, do you mind me asking what do you mean?
It's a struggle every day getting up and leaving. Just taking the blankets off yourself in the morning. It’s horrible. People need to know that it is deadly to live like this. You do just want to… You feel like you have no life left living in here with no help and no sense of security. You just think what's the point? You really do.
It's not your fault. It's the likes of people who are supposed to do their jobs and they won't do it. They really won’t.
Reporter: Who are you referring to?
Leo Varadkar and Eoghan Murphy and everyone else that’s sitting in that Dáil. It’s their job to care. And if they shouldn’t, they shouldn’t have the job. Give the job to someone that actually cares.
Reporter: What would you say if Leo Varadkar and Eoghan Murphy were here?
Get me my house. I asked politely the last time. Get me my house.
Listen to the interview