By Jason Michael

Rather than continue to write about homelessness in Dublin I decided that it was time to get out and speak to some of the homeless themselves and listen to what they had to say. I spoke with Sharon on Foley Street. She has been four years on the street.

In the early hours of this morning I went for a walk around the city centre. On a Friday night, nine days before Christmas, the streets of Dublin are abuzz with activity; there are those out for their Christmas work night out, the reindeer jumper clad troupes on their twelve pubs of Christmas jaunt, others are coming and going from their jobs, and then there is the army of rough sleepers trying to get a bit of shut eye. I have been writing more often in the past while about the homeless crisis, and I thought it was time I went and spoke to those who are actually sleeping on the streets. All of those I approached were happy to talk. A few thanked me for making them “feel human.”

Over on Foley Street I met Sharon. She and her partner have been sleeping rough in the doorway of a dance studio, or – as she calls it – her “little home.” Sharon finds it hard to sleep, and who would blame her after being set alight in her sleeping bag by a passing group of thugs the Halloween before last? She was reading the city paper and was all chat about the doctor who was acquitted on charges of murdering her own daughter. I sat beside her and over a few smokes we spoke about how she ended up on the streets, her experiences, and her thoughts on what the government could be doing to end the homeless crisis.

What came as a surprise to me – as if I would know anything about sleeping on the streets – was her lack of anger at the state of things. She was wounded over her homelessness, over being separated from her daughter, and over the possibility of having to spend another Christmas in a damp and freezing doorway. Yet when I asked her if she would like to say anything to or ask anything of the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, all she gave was a heartfelt plea that he “try to do the best he can” to get people off the streets. “Every house deserves a cat,” she said as we touched on the idea of everyone having a right to a home.

Some of what she had to say about the problem verged on the xenophobic, and she was aware of this and apologetic. To her it was about “helping our own first.” Just around the corner there were two other men, Alex from Italy and Martin from Romania. It seemed to me that the problem paid no attention to where the victims were from. Still, her opinion is understandable to a degree – as the number of those sleeping rough increases the government cuts more and more funding and services, forcing those on the street to fight harder among themselves for dwindling resources. Her opinion doesn’t make her a racist or a bad person. It merely gives away the fact that she is frightened.

Sharon is Homeless in Dublin

Author: Jason Michael (@Jeggit)

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