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Monday April 08, 2013 21:19 by Gale Vogel - Birds Eye View
The plight of the homeless in Ireland.
What is a day in the life of people living in Ireland today? If we're lucky we awake to the stress of travelling to work, breakfast and getting the children ready for school. What of those who do not have this luck?
“Last night my phone was stolen, together with my shoes and my unclean shirt. Today I sit crying, lonely, the music in my phone is gone. There is no longer the option to escape through those sounds to a place where this life is forgotten.
On cold nights, I phone the council help line seeking a warm place to stay. I realise that in so seeking it is only physical warmth that may be my right. Expect no compassion, the staff are tired, some mean but mostly tired. Expect no cleanliness, the budget for these places it appears does not extend to removing the urine stained and smelling sheets from the weeks of use. When I'm informed that without the €4.50 with me there will be no place, I know then that I would rather sleep rough, for that pittance will buy danger, dirt and stolen things. My new boots, the donated phone, another old shirt will be stuffed into my pillow. While laying there awake, insomnia brought on by the shouting of drug users and alcoholics in loud debate about the merits and rights that they have lost. With a fight there is the removal of the loudest but not the worst. Another man has a heart attack in the next bed. This with the smell of stale urine from the sheets on which I lie has me lie awake awaiting the next day and my forced exit with warm porridge and a half cooked egg, if I'm lucky.
It is then that I begin again the seeking of that same €4.50 for the next tortuous night. My tooth aches. The dentist caring for those of us homeless examines me and says that I need a root canal treatment to the affected molar. This he says will cost 250. I look at him and say that's fine, I've got €3.25. He looks at me with heavy eyes admitting the irony and proceeds with his assistant to remove the mountain in my mouth. Like a volcano removing a mountain there remains after the forty minutes violent struggle a gaping hole. It pains me for days.
If you're listening I won't stop talking for it is so seldom that anyone pays attention.”
These are not my sentiments nor my words, patiently listened to over a coffee with a well spoken man who finds himself in this lonely planet. Not the loneliness of holidays travelling but it seems more expensive, not only in money terms but in the sacrifice of dignity.
Like those few that I knew who worked alone their talks molested those listening like the shout of loneliness. I know that this scream from the homeless is not the want to be heard or listened to but to be respected. The tired abuse from the help line and the disregard offered in stained sheets both combine to create a feeling of being unwanted. The valueless feeling some believe true, but the truth is we are all born naked and in need, the same and equal!
As if the pain were not enough, each hostel place is subsidised by the state, that is in addition to the €4.50 sought. I'm informed that the state pays €35 per bed space per night. There are hotels in Dublin that charge less than the €39.50 for bed spaces, with en-suite showers and full hot breakfasts included. Holiday hostels are cheaper again. How can the dire level of accommodation offered to these vulnerable people be so expensive?
Lee Halpin dies trying to expose the pain and danger of this life.