How do you tell your children they can’t write to Santa because there’s nowhere for him to deliver their presents?
My name is Eoin. I’m a father to five-year-old twin girls, Maria and Maddie, and my four-year-old son, Leo. And the only Christmas gift I’ve ever wanted was for my family to have a place to call home.
I’ve struggled with addiction for a lot of my adult life, sometimes taking one step forward and two steps back in my recovery. But around ten years ago, I was doing okay, even studying at university. I started to believe in myself. Then life threw some devastating challenges my way.
After being involved in a serious car crash, I became hooked on very strong painkillers. Before long, I had slipped into a very dark place. I was in the full grip of addiction and petty crime when I first met my girlfriend. On the outside, I looked like I was having a great time; I wasn’t. I was in hell. Twice, I attempted suicide.
Ten months in prison gave me the time off drugs that I needed. I’d been trying to run away from myself, but every time I ran away, there I was. I knew I needed to change. After I got out of prison, my girlfriend and I decided to start a family. But shortly after, we lost our unborn baby. The grief was unbearable. I went straight back to the dark place in my mind and it wasn’t long before addiction had a hold of me again. I tried so hard to fight it, not realising I couldn’t fight it alone.
In the years that followed, Maria and Maddie were born, then my little boy, Leo. But my addiction had broken my relationship with their mother. I lost my home, then I lost my kids. I was living in hostels and on the streets. Anyone can find themselves homeless. It broke my heart, not knowing when I’d see my girls and my little boy. Not knowing if we’d ever live under the same roof. If we’d ever spend Christmas together again.
I spent two years trapped in homelessness, desperately missing my children every single day. The sadness was truly unbearable at Christmas. The truth is, I wouldn’t be here today if it hadn’t been for Galway Simon. Of that, I’m sure. It was when I went to live in the Galway Simon Recovery Project that my life really turned a corner. I had weekly meetings with my addiction counsellor, Tom, and an aftercare group every Tuesday. I was so desperate to be back with my children. All that mattered was getting myself together and finding a place to call home. And I’d never have made it without Galway Simon.
During my time at Galway Simon, I never stopped believing that I’d one day be reunited with my children. I dreamt of us all spending Christmas together. Safe in our own home. Orla, my key worker, helped me look for housing, filling out forms, and making appointments for me to view places. Tom stood by me every step of the way and Galway Simon even put me in touch with a psychologist. It’s my honest belief that I wouldn’t be alive without people like Tom and Orla.
Thanks to Galway Simon, the kids and I did find a home. And while I’m grateful for so much, sometimes, what stands out the most are the little things. Being able to tuck my children into bed at night. Learning how to do my daughters’ hair.
I’m so grateful for the precious little things.
Galway Simon has been so good to me. I wouldn’t have anything without them.
Galway Simon helped me to furnish the house, and then supplied me with food packs and clothes for my children, to get us started in our new home. And Galway Simon will be at my side as I work to rebuild our lives.
This will be my first Christmas with my little boy and only my second with the girls. When I imagine seeing their faces on Christmas morning, opening their presents, safe in their own home, my heart fills with gratitude.
Father to Maria, Maddie and Leo
Please note Eoin’s name and image have been changed to protect his identity, however his story is very much true.