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Case Studies: Facing homelessness in a foreign country

Social support agency Crosscare have provided vital support to immigrants in Ireland.

Image: William Murphy/Flickr

FACING HOMELESSNESS IS a traumatic experience. Doing so in a foreign country without the language skills to deal with the dreaded bureaucracy can – and does -compound the difficult.

Crosscare, an agency of the Dublin Archdiocese, seeks to help those facing problems with housing and other social welfare issues. The majority of people it helps are foreign nationals, running frequent language specialist clinics in Polish, Chinese and Roma amongst others.

Looking back over the first year of service in their Sackville House facility, the charity examined some of its successful cases.

Anthony Edgar 

When Anthony came back to Ireland after a number of years working in Europe, unexpected events meant he found himself without a place to live.

“When I came back, I was depressed for about seven and a half years when I lost my other half to cancer, I stayed in bed for seven and a half years… it happened overnight, I had everything and I lost everything.”

With the help of Crosscare, Anthony was able to find accommodation and get back on his feet. He now dedicates his time to helping those faced with similar difficulties to himself.

“What I do with my money when I get it is help the homeless on the streets… at the moment I am using this book ‘Chineasy’ to try and learn some basic Cantonese. Because there are a lot of older Chinese people that come to this country and are struggling, and I think people need to reach out.”

Andre and Sofia

Andre and Sofia are refugees in Ireland. Finding suitable accommodation was initially difficult for the pair as Sofia has exceptional health needs. When their adult son left home, they had to find alternative accommodation because their rent supplement was lowered.

At this pressing juncture, they sought help through an information and advocacy officer. With Crosscare advocating on their behalf, Andre and Sofia were eventually given the higher rent supplement and allowed to stay in their home.

Andre, a qualified doctor in his own country, has since been working towards getting his qualifications recognised in Ireland.


Many cases of homelessness arise due to difficulties dealing with the bureaucracy in the Department of Social Protection. This was the case for Dominique, a single parent with four children. After being offered social housing by her local county council, she gave notice to her landlord and left her rented accommodation.

The social housing was not ready in time and the council had to withdraw the offer, rendering Dominique and her children homeless. Having to then deal with the voluntary housing association, bureaucratic misunderstanding lead to Dominique becoming ineligible for the council housing list for one year.

Dominique was faced with having to live in a hostel for six months while a Judicial Review was sought. With the help of Crosscare, Dominique was offered three choices of social housing.

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Lyudmyla Vinnikova

Lyudmyla Vinnikova is now a hospitality volunteer with Crosscare, having previously been a user of the service. Originally from the Ukraine, Vinnikova spoke of the difficulty of first coming to Ireland with her family as a refugee, and the support given to her by Crosscare.

Source: Video

On the help that Crosscare had given her, Vinnikova said:

You helped me to survive, because I was in a very difficult situation. I don’t feel alone anymore. You helped me to get my papers, to get a flat, my social welfare money and you helped me with everything.

Speaking at the launch, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said: “The important thing is that you help the people that you are working with to stand up for their own rights and to free themselves.”

Source: Video

The service is made up of three branches: housing and welfare information, the migrant project and the refugee service. The majority of those that Crosscare deal with are migrants, about 90% of them having been born outside of Ireland. A number of them are now naturalised citizens.

READ: Ballymun council building occupied over rent allowance ban

READ: Decisions by Department of Social Protection have ‘catastrophic results on peoples lives’

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