Client blog: Homeless at Christmas
This blog post comes directly from a Merchants Quay Ireland Homeless Services client who asked to remain anonymous.
Christmas is supposed to be spent with family. When I think of Christmas, I think of a lot of joy, a lot of love, and just kind of being there, having happy times and feeling that warmth. Homelessness is the opposite of that. Christmas, when you’re homeless, is depressing. It hurts.
This will be my first Christmas being homeless. I’m dreading it, and it’s not just Christmas. There’s something awful about spending New Year’s Eve alone. I was hoping to reconnect with my family, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen.
This Christmas, I’ll have to call up the freephone to get allocated a bed. I might not get a hostel where I know anyone, but hopefully I will. Hopefully, I can get over the sadness of spending Christmas in hostels, because it’s not all bad. You have the staff at Merchants Quay. I haven’t a bad word to say about them. And you have the people who come to Merchants Quay here, I haven’t a bad word to say about them either. They’re all genuine people. Since I’ve become homeless they’ve helped me a lot, they’ve looked out for me. So maybe I’ll be sharing Christmas with them, people in the same situation. You need to make the most of it if you’re going to get through the situation that you’re in.
Even if I’m spending Christmas and New Year’s in a hostel, there’s other people out there who have it worse, sleeping on the streets, in the snow. They’re going to wake up shaking and drenched from head to toe. Someone once told me that he was on sleeping on the streets. When he bedded down, it was all clear – the skies were clear, it was cold but dry. He woke up in the morning in two feet of snow. Could you imagine that? He couldn’t feel his fingers or legs. Couldn’t feel anything.
Over winter, most days I’m just walking around town. Going into places, trying to catch warmth. It’s difficult. You’d think they’d open the hostels for 24 hours, just to help you catch some warmth. I’d go to McDonald’s or Dr Quirky’s. Sometimes I’d go to shops, just stand in the doorway because you’d have warmth behind you, so you’d only feel half cold. Mostly McDonald’s or Burger King. Just sit in there, catch warmth.
If I could give one message to the public, it’s just to ask for kindness. People who are homeless are people just like you. They came into this world the same as you did. If you see someone on the streets, say hello, get them a cup of tea or a cup of hot chocolate because what if you were in their shoes? That cup of tea might help keep them warm.
You can help support MQI’s work the Christmas by visiting https://mqi.ie/christmas/