Dr. Don Coffey is a GP with the HSE’s adult homeless health team. He was there at the beginning, almost 20 years ago, working from a surgery at our Emergency Shelter, attending to the needs of people who are homeless.









"The big thing is the skin and the feet. And the other one is the chest problems. You know, when you're out in the cold and especially in weather like Ireland, you're going to have horrible, horrible chest problems. They are, I suppose, the most common things. And, the willingness of people to talk to you and to share their stories, and a lot of them are horrific, really, really horrific. 
When you're working there (in the Emergency Shelter) as a doctor, you deal with what's in front of you. One of the things I had to learn very, very quickly was to accept the person where they are. And try to work from there. It doesn't mean that you ignore the things you're worried about as a medic, but you have to gain the trust and you have to actually see that person.
Sometimes it can be so hard for people to make small changes, and you can't do it for them. But to be able to make changes, you have to have choices and they have to be real choices. You know, how could you make a choice about addiction if you don't know how you're going to keep your clothes dry?
Everybody's working for the same thing; to get somebody housed and to help to maintain that housing in a healthy way where they can become involved in society and enjoy their own life, in whichever way they want to do themselves."



Don talks about the relationship between Irish society and homelessness over the decades, and how “Simon was always picking up the pieces”: