Patricia, Housekeeping Assistant

“I work in the mornings cleaning all the bedrooms, bathrooms and the other living areas. We make sure all the rooms are spotless so that it’s a comfortable space for the people who come here. When people come to us they might be nervous and feeling unstable, so at least a clean and comfortable room is something they have when they come in.

I also do the laundry in the Shelter – all the bed clothes, and all the blankets and sleeping bags for people sleeping rough. In the last few years the volume of laundry I’m doing has gone way up. Especially whenever there is bad weather, it can get a bit hectic.

Things have gotten a lot busier over the last few years in general, especially within the last year. The Shelter is full every single night and we have to turn people away because there’s only so many people we can safely take in. I’m constantly on the go trying to keep up with the volume of laundry and the beds that need to be made every day.

For me, the most rewarding part of the job is meeting people who have moved on from the Shelter and have turned their lives around.

Some of the bedrooms I’d clean would be in an awful state and I could see that the person really wasn’t taking care of themselves at all because they are in such a bad way. Then, if they are given the chance to move out I’d see them a while later in the Day Centre maybe visiting a doctor or the counsellor and they’re like a new person.

There was one man in particular I remember, he was in an awful way, but then Cork Simon got him into one of their flats; I met him recently and he’s totally transformed…. and he told me his flat is spotless! When you get people into their own home, it’s amazing the positive affect it can have on people.

I have to say the people I work with are fantastic. Everyone is there for each other and really supports one another. We’re all on the same wavelength.

In the last few years we have had a lot more young people stay in the Shelter. I can see that they’re completely lost and can’t find a way out of their turmoil. That’s the hardest part for me… having to see that happen to our young people. It’s drink, drugs, poor mental health; and other times it’s just bad luck.

I think most people look at people with addictions and all they see is an addict…they can’t see the pain inside. We don’t know what it’s like to be them and what they have been through. They deserve to be treated with respect no matter what, and that’s what I try to do in my job at Cork Simon.

The Shelter in general can be a stressful environment because the people inside are usually in a bad place and so may be not the easiest to deal with. But the care staff here are brilliant and they’re always there in difficult situations. No matter what I face I know there’s always someone there.”