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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 0°C
homeless ireland

Getting on the bus: Recovered addicts returning to help those still suffering visit the ‘No Bucks Café’ on their nighttime service.

THOSE VOLUNTEERING WITH the ‘No Bucks Café’ are an advertisement of hope for those using the service.

Around half of those volunteering have recovered from addiction using services that those operating the bus can help provide.

The café, which is operated by addiction service Tiglin, reaches out and offers support to the homeless community in Dublin.

During the week, went out to meet some of the people volunteering on the bus, and some of those dropping by to use the service.

IMG_0401 No Bucks cafe No Bucks cafe

One of those volunteering on the bus was 40-year-old Paul McDonnell. Now clean of drugs, Paul was was formerly addicted to heroin, and used methadone for more than twenty years.

Paul has recently completed a level 5 Fetec in Community Addiction Studies and is looking forwards to getting married next January. Speaking to Paul said:

Since I was 15 I’ve been involved in drugs – my life had been just all down, down, down. I’ve just opened up to the spiritual path of the programme and my life has just changed… it should be in more communities, last week it was very busy, we had a 100 people here.  

before and after Paul McConnell Paul on the first day of coming into the No Bucks Café and how he appears today Paul McConnell

Tiglin, who operate the bus, are a faith-based Christian group who help those suffering from addiction. The group offer rehabilitation services to those entering recovery.

While Tiglin has a specific focus on addiction problems, the bus is open to whoever wishes to use it and they cater for around 100 individuals on their Thursday session in the city centre.

The bus is in operation three nights a week and also visits Ballymun on Tuesday nights and Bray on Wednesday nights.

The No Bucks Café provide what they can for those that come onto it. This can mean offering someone a cup of tea, a sandwich or, a new sleeping bag. One volunteer on the bus provided cosmetics bags for women.

For Phil Thompson, who is head of operations with Tiglin, tackling the underlying issues is important.

The pathway into homelessness usually involves a situation with addiciton, the pathway out of homelessness then needs to be about looking at the issues that brought you into it in the first place.

IMG_0405 No Bucks Café No Bucks Café

Driver of the No Bucks Café Aubrey McCarthy described the sense of satisfaction in seeing the progress of those who come onto the bus. He said:

With the the No Bucks Café I see guys changing their lives. If it was just feeding people I don’t think I’d have the heart for it, if I didn’t see people changing, but I see people changing.One guy, I was asked to be his best man at his wedding.
I met him years ago and he was in a bad state and the judge sent him to jail for a number of years. At his wedding, the judge was the guest of honour, and I was the best man.

Video / YouTube

On the inside door of the bus were a number of testimonies from those who had used the service. Some of these were expressions of thanks to Tiglin while others were simply thoughts or poems individuals wished to post.

IMG_0393 No Bucks Café No Bucks Café

IMG_0397 No Bucks Cafe No Bucks Cafe

One thing that is notable about the service is the diversity of the people using it. Some of them were rough sleepers while others, who had been housed, attended for the social aspect offered by the bus.

The reality that homelessness can take a grip in anyone’s life, regardless of circumstance, was evident among those in attendance.

For Mick, a family dispute in 2011 lead to him becoming homeless for a month.

I’m not used to living on my own, because I’m married, I have two kids. If you’re used to living on your own I suppose it’s ok, but I’m not… I just come down here every Thursday, for a cup of coffee… they get a good crowd going here.

What the No Bucks Café does is bring a service to those who need it. By having recovered addicts and survivors of homelessness volunteering on the bus there is a sense of equality and understanding created.

Real hope if offered to those using the service that recovery and progress can be a reality – and those helping out prove that there is life beyond addiction.

Read: Wet hostels reduce street drinking, violence and free up hospital beds

Also: The new homeless: ‘Her life just turned bad, by one simple thing’

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