“I ended up moving in with my grandparents – when I was seven. I don’t know why. That’s just the way it was. My Mam and my step-dad – I don’t see them. I haven’t for years. I never knew my Dad”.

Matt comes from a town in Co. Cork. He tells the story of his pathway to Cork Simon Community and how he became homeless.

“When I was 12 or so I started drinking. You wanted to be the same as everyone else. Up around the school there’d be 50 to 100 people – everyone who couldn’t get into a pub. You’d do four cans or so. Then eight or twelve (cans). By 15 I was doing straight vodka followed by a sup of Coke and a fag – ‘chasing’ we called it. Then there was some hash around and I did some party drugs too.”

I know I’m an alcoholic. That is my problem. You (other people) can go out and have three or four pints and stop. I can’t. I can’t stop. Would you piss everything against the wall? Everything, ‘til I’ve nothing left?”

“After the Junior Cert I left school and it was the time of the boom and my uncle got me a job laying blocks. At 16 I ended up getting a flat with a girl. We were together for 4 or 5 years. When that broke up I moved around. There was building work in the UK, so I moved there. It worked out well for a while.

I ended up getting a girl pregnant. The relationship broke down and I returned to Ireland. A child on the way and not able to support it. How would you feel? I felt disappointed in myself. It brings up lots of emotions in me just thinking about it. I was drinking a lot at this stage.

But I knew I had to get help and I came back to Ireland to get treatment and I got into an alcohol treatment centre in Dublin. Then on to a secondary residential treatment centre.”

“I was six months dry when I got news that it was going to be very difficult to get rent allowance in Cork. I blew a fuse and went out drinking. That’s when I really became homeless.”

Initially I went to another emergency accommodation. There were a few nights sleeping rough here and there. It was not nice but what can you do? It’s something you just have to do.

I’ve been three weeks in Cork Simon Community. I’ve stopped drinking for three weeks. They’ve helped me go to AA meetings – I’ll probably go to one tonight. Simon have been a huge help and they’ve done the best they could.”

“The biggest help has been my key worker. She is wonderful and has helped me with everything; filling in forms, preparing housing applications, typing letters…everything.

Another huge help has been the activities everyday. Getting you to do things is good. Keeping me occupied. So you don’t have to get to think too much. They’ve also helped get me onto a FAS course. It starts in three weeks and then in five weeks I want to be out of here.

Where do I hope to be in week’s time? I guess still in my room here in the Shelter. In six months time I’ll be out and in my apartment. Maybe a two-bed apartment on the southside. With the City Council probably, I don’t know. I just had a little blip in my life. It could happen to anyone”.

Read more personal experiences of homelessness