herald

Wednesday 20 September 2017

'I worry people will think I'm scum', says homeless schoolgirl

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

A teenage girl has told of how she fears people will believe she is "scum" once they discover she is homeless.

The schoolgirl - a fifth year student in west Dublin - featured in a report on RTE's Morning Ireland programme yesterday.

The girl, who used the pseudonym Amanda, featured alongside her mum Theresa, older sister and younger brother.

Viewers heard how the family lost their home in Galway following a marital breakdown.

The home was repossessed after the family struggled to meet mortgage repayments.

They moved to Dublin, where Theresa was from, and stayed with family and friends before they were forced to declare themselves homeless.

They have been living in the same hotel room for the past year.

In a moving report, Amanda spoke about how she feared for her future - and how she struggled to tell her school's deputy principal she was homeless.

"Definitely the past year it's been a very huge eye-opener. It's been a huge culture shock and a huge change to how it was for us," she said.

"It's hard to fit in and to find someone that will accept you and your troubles.

"If you get to the stage where you can open up about this situation and the homelessness, it's still a sense of 'will they still be your friend or will they find you scum?'.

"It's hard to pick the good people from the bad and then finding it hard to come out to people you've never met before.

"It took me five or 10 minutes there earlier on to say that I was homeless to my deputy principal... I just couldn't say it.

"I could barely say to her when I did say it. It's very hard," she added.

Amanda wants her family to get a home and get their own space back.

"If it was just our privacy back it would be 10 times better than what we have now... there's no peaceful time," she said.

Please

When asked what she would say to a Government minister if given the chance, Amanda said: "Give us our home please, we need it... we need it as soon as possible."

Theresa said she believes public housing is the only solution to the crisis.

"Everybody should have a home, where they can walk in the door and smell their mother cooking their dinner," she said.

Theresa said they would love their old house back.

Their story comes after three homeless people died last week - two who were sleeping rough at the time of their deaths and a young mum who took her own life in emergency accommodation.

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