herald

Tuesday 19 June 2018

'I got bed and food but this isn't where I want to be', insists ex-soldier Mark

Mark Whelan at the shelter
Mark Whelan at the shelter

"I got a bed for the last two nights and heat and food. It's not where I want to be, but this is the situation I'm in."

Mark Whelan is 43 and from Shannon, Co Clare. He is one of the homeless men using the emergency shelter in St Catherine's.

As the Arctic weather saw Dublin grind to a halt outside, he sipped a cup of tea while sitting on the edge of his bed.

Nobody wants to sleep in a homeless shelter, said Mark, but if your life has taken you down that path, it can be a lifesaver.

"I was in the army for nine years, so I'm used to camp life," he said.

Mark has an alcohol addiction and has relapsed, but he is now trying to get his life back on track.

"I was enrolled on an animation course in Colaiste Dhulaigh College of Further Education in Coolock, and staying in Priorswood, but when they found me with empty bottles I was out," he said.

Asked about when he relapsed, he was very specific. "December - the 16th to be exact".

He had been dry for 18 months before that.

"I'm hoping to get help, maybe a detox course, but I can't do it in my own. I need help - otherwise I'm banjaxed," he said.

Battles

"I really want to get back on track and back to my course, with my own accommodation."

As he headed out to the breakfast station in the sports hall, he said: "Maybe by being here I can access some services.

Mark, like many without homes, has his battles to fight, but at least Storm Emma won't be one of them.

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