“When I was facing homelessness and had nowhere to turn, Galway Simon’s support changed my whole life.”
No young person should have to live in homelessness.
In January 2022, there were 513 people living in Emergency Accommodation in West of Ireland, which is a really shocking number. Of these 59 were aged 18-24, so it is essential that Galway Simon’s youth homelessness services can keep their doors open to any young person who needs them.
When no one has ever been there for you, it’s such an amazing feeling to finally get the support you need – to feel that you do have a future and that there are people who will be by your side no matter what. Honestly, it’s life-changing.
My name’s Jen and I want to tell you a bit about my story, some of the struggles I’ve been through, and the incredible help I’ve had from Galway Simon Community.
The housing crisis remains a massive problem across Ireland, including right here in the West. For young people it’s incredibly hard to find affordable places to live, and for anyone like me who’s coming from a chaotic or abusive background, it’s that much more difficult to cope.
I grew up in a really dysfunctional household – not a lot of love, not a lot of encouragement. I was abused as a young teen, and that led me into self-harm and all kinds of really dark thoughts. It was so hard, I felt I had so much love to give, but the people around me only ended up hurting me. It really drove me inside myself.
I spent a couple of years in care, which gave me a chance to get away from the bad situation at home, but when I turned 19 I had nowhere to live and no one to turn to, so I ended up moving back into that old family house. It was so painful to be around them again every day, the people who had hurt me so badly. I can’t tell you what a relief it was when someone told me about Galway Simon.
I was near the point of collapse when I made an appointment with Galway Simon’s Youth Service. When I met with one of the support workers I just laid everything out on the table. I told them, “This is the way it is. This is my life. I can’t deal with it. I need help.” This was really unlike me, to open myself up like that. Normally I act like I’m fine, like I’ll get over it, so it felt amazing to unburden myself and ask for help.
When Galway Simon rang me a few days later to tell me they had a place for me, honestly I could cry thinking about it. My whole life changed. I was so used to life knocking me back one thousand steps every time I took a step forward, it was amazing to have something truly positive happen to me.
They didn’t just give me a place to live, they really worked with me closely and kindly, to set up a recovery plan and get me going in a good direction. They’ve been there for me every step and continue to be there. They are more than just a support system, they are like an actual family, helping me develop, giving me space to be myself. I’ve learned life skills and I’ve made some amazing friends. I’ve also benefitted from different forms of therapy including sea-swimming and working with horses.
It’s not just that I have a place to live – I’ve grown so much. I’m moving forward. I can see my future now. It’s so good to have that trust and belief that there is going to be a better day, that there is going to be a better life for me.
Please take it from me, this support didn’t just change my life, it saved my life. I’m not sure I’d be here to write this letter if it weren’t for Galway Simon. Please give what you can today, so more young people can get the incredible help I’ve had.
Honestly, I can’t say it enough: Galway Simon changed my whole life. They stepped up at such a dark time and it still sends shivers through my whole body to think about how far I’ve come. They’ll see you there on the floor and they’ll pick you right back up. They won’t leave you down there. Never did I expect anything this good to come into my life.
PS: Facing homelessness is such a scary place to be, and anyone can find themselves there. With Galway Simon on my side, I have a strong feeling that I’ll never end up back there again – they won’t let that happen. Please give this same gift to other young people. It really does mean the world.
“I know there are so many young people out there right now who could have their lives, their entire futures, transformed by Galway Simon. Please give what you can to help make that miracle possible.”
Thanks to your support, we can help prevent young people like Jen from experiencing the trauma of homelessness.
Please note Jen’s name and image has been changed to protect her identity, however her story is very much true.