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'I was nearly crying when I got accommodation. It's not just my home, it's a home for my children'

Focus Ireland has supported over 14,000 people so far this year who are homeless or at risk of losing their home.

Source: focusireland/YouTube

FOCUS IRELAND HAS announced that it has supported over 14,000 people so far this year who are homeless or at risk of losing their home.

This year’s figure is a rise of 500 compared to that of last year.

The charity reported the latest figures as it launched a new video called #MarksStory to highlight one of the people behind the figure.

In the video, Mark Wright (28) from Cork tells how he battled through serious drug addiction which left him homeless. He fell into drug use at just 12 years old. However, with the help of Focus Ireland, Wright has managed to turn his life around for the better.

“I got caught up in drugs at a very young age when I was 12 and gradually the drugs increased and I would have ended up homeless. It’s like being caught in the headlights. Not knowing where you will sleep,” Wright said.

“Most nights I was going to sleep towards the end of my addiction hoping the drugs would kill me,” he said.

Wright said it was at the point that his children were taken from his custody that he turned to Focus Ireland for help.

In that situation, I could not get clean. The only reason I got clean eventually was because of my children.

Focus Ireland worked with Wright to support him and help with everything from his addiction issues through to money management and access to education.

Staff at the charity helped him get signed up for a two-year night course in University College Cork, where he is working to receive a Diploma in Youth and Community Work.

Once Wright ended his drug use, the charity worked with him to help secure accommodation.

“I was nearly crying when I got the place. I can’t express how much it means to me. It’s not just my home, it’s a home for my children,” Wright said.

“I am more confident now. I am a brilliant father to my children. I will forever be grateful to Focus Ireland for what they have given me – and to my children. It means the world to me, my future looks good now.”

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Focus Ireland advocacy manager Roughan MacNamara said:

It’s important to show that people can come back from addiction and from the lowest points in life once the support is there for them and they take the first steps.
The reality is a lot of people would write off someone like Mark and think he would never turn his life around. His success shows what is possible.

Worsening homelessness crisis

Focus Ireland works in partnership with the State and local authorities across the country to deliver services and housing to those in need.

However, the charity said it has to raise at least 40% of its annual budget to enable it to meet the constantly rising needs.

The charity said that the major change in recent years has been the fact that many families and individuals are now losing their homes and becoming homeless purely for economic reasons.

In October, there were 5,298 adults and 3,194 children staying in emergency accommodation during a single week in the month. This marked a rise of 48 adults and 70 children on September.

“Focus Ireland maintains that the State must move from managing homelessness towards ending it in order to get to grips with the crisis,” a statement from the charity said.

Read: ‘You’re giving back dignity’: Meet the man who fits dentures for the homeless outside the GPO

More: ‘You may not smell too good, and if they smell drink off ye at all, they’ll label you straight away’

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