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Dublin: 11°C Monday 20 September 2021

Limerick woman describes going into labour in hotel room after becoming homeless

“I felt like my little family was broken.”

Image: Shutterstock/samunya

A LIMERICK MOTHER has given a harrowing account of living in substandard rental accommodation, and later going into labour in a hotel room after becoming homeless.

Last August, while pregnant with her fifth child, she went into labour surrounded by her four other children while they stayed in emergency hotel accommodation.

“So, I was in the hotel room, in one double bed, pregnant, with all the kids, in the one bed, and I went into labour. I’ll never forget it,” said Kate (28).

Last May, prior to giving birth, she said she had to make a “heartbreaking” decision to split up her children because the hotel couldn’t facilitate them in one room.

“I had no family support at the time, so I had to make a choice…to pick a child that had to go and (stay) with a friend of mine,” she said.

“I picked my eldest, Ellie, so she couldn’t come to the hotel with us. Every time I was leaving Ellie, she was heartbroken.”

“One day I looked over at Ellie and the tears were streaming down her face. It was heartbreaking. So, I snuck her into the hotel room.”

The family also spent time “couch surfing” in a friend’s two-bedroom apartment while looking for places to sleep.

I was on the couch; my three kids were in one single bed; my friend and her son were in their bed; and I had my baby in the buggy alongside me.

She said people who might think living in a hotel room is luxury, are wrong.

“We had no fridge. The milk was constantly going off. I would get fresh milk and put it outside the window at night time, so it wouldn’t go off. But, then, you’d wake up in the morning and there might be a slug in it, so you’d have to buy more milk.”

She said her children “started bed wetting” because of the trauma they endured.

“I got very depressed. I was crying all the time. I got very upset because of the effect on the kids.”

“Myself and my daughter Ellie always had a great bond. But, (then) she just wasn’t my Ellie (anymore). I felt like I was loosing her.”

“I remember my son Josh went into school and said it was his mammy’s fault they didn’t have a house. Josh still sometimes says it to me…’how come you left us homeless, living in hotels’.”

“I felt like my little family was broken.”

The mother, who said she has always tried to keep her family under one roof, said she felt massive guilt at their dreadful situation: “I felt like I was neglecting (my children). It was just horrible.”

While living in their rented home she said she could only afford to buy Spaghetti Bolognese for Christmas dinner.

After renting for two and half years in a “damp” and “mouldy” property, she said she eventually had to turn to Novas for help.

“I was shy to ask for help…but I was depressed,” the single mother from Kennedy Park explained.

Last month Novas secured a three-bedroom house for the family.

Wiping tears from her eyes, she said: “When we all sat down for our first cooked meal in the house, I could see the tears in Ellie’s eyes; She said, ‘Mum, this is what I love; this is the best part of the day; we all get to sit down and have our dinner together.”

According to Novas, the numbers of homeless are “getting worse”.

Launching it’s annual report for last year, the organisation said it had helped 557 children in Limerick and Cork, an increase of 55% in the numbers of children becoming homeless in the Munster region.

“Last year we worked with 3,552 people in total — a 47% increase in a twelve-month period. The most significant numbers appearing were children,” stated Una Burns, Novas head of policy and communications.

Behind those statistics is a child’s voice, a child’s trauma. Behind every number is a human story.

Read: ‘I don’t see why not’: Jail time could be the penalty for substandard accommodation

Read: Mother-of-three forwarded child pornography clip in ‘remarkably unusual’ case

About the author:

David Raleigh

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