For me the housing crisis isn’t just something I see in headlines, not just something that’s happening to other people. For me it’s deeply personal. It’s something that nearly killed me.
I’d like to tell you a bit about what happened to me – how my life came close to collapsing, and how Galway Simon brought me back from homelessness. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
I suppose you could say it all started when my partner died, very suddenly, of a heart attack. This was nine years ago now. We’d been together for seven years, and then, just like that, I was on my own. It was devastating. As if my grief wasn’t bad enough, I got a letter from the council telling me I had 30 days to get out of the flat. The letter actually arrived on the day I visited the coroner to make funeral arrangements. Can you imagine?
Thankfully, Galway Simon was with me. Like a good friend, they’ve been there for me for the past nine years, in fact. And it all started right there – they stepped in and helped me get set up in shared housing, which kept me off the streets.
The house itself was grand, but I was struggling personally: in such a bad way, still feeling the grief. I started drinking really heavily, every single day, just to numb the pain. I spiralled downwards, eventually ending up in hospital. I’d been having seizures and one day I just collapsed in my hallway. Luckily Olive from Galway Simon was with me at the time and rang an ambulance. I can honestly say she saved my life.
That’s when things started turning around for me. Olive and Martina are my Galway Simon case workers but they’re so much more than that – I call them my half-sisters. They’re totally honest and open, they’re helping me move in a direction that’s good for me. Maybe most important for me is that I have stopped drinking, thanks to the support of Hope House. I’ve done counselling as well as one-to-one meetings, with Olive and Martina right there by my side.
Galway Simon has also kept me from homelessness. For the past nine years I have been living in housing, not sleeping on the streets, and supported by Galway Simon. It was shared housing for a while, which I liked well enough, but then a couple of years ago Olive arranged to meet me and handed me the key to my own place!
I walked in the front door of this apartment and I swear the whole neighbourhood would have heard me roaring with delight. It was beautiful. It was mine. Now, when people come to visit, I can say ‘Welcome. Welcome to my home.’ Those simple words mean the entire world, and I can only say to them that it’s thanks to Galway Simon.
And thanks to Simon I’ve really developed myself too. I’ve been on so many courses! I’ve done photography, hairdressing, and two or three computer courses, all with the help of Galway Simon. I even did an access course at the NUIG, which I passed with flying colours. It feels amazing to have my life moving in a good direction again.
That’s the thing about Simon – they never give up on you. Even when you are in the darkness, you always know if you see the five letters SIMON there’s a light there and once you see the light you have a chance.
PS: We’re going into a tough time for a lot of people, so if there’s anything you can give to keep Galway Simon doing their life-saving work for people like me, I hope you’ll make a donation today.
Please note Pauric’s image has been changed to protect his identity, however his story is very much true.