Sport helped my recovery

Dubliner Tara McNeill first encountered the homeless charity, Dublin Simon Community when she was sleeping rough. Now, thanks to its encouragement, her own hard work, and a love of sport, she has turned her life around and shares her story to help others.

“I had my first encounter with Dublin Simon Community when I was sleeping rough. I was very sick at the time so I went into hospital and they asked me would I think about going into the Dublin Simon Community detox service.

The Dublin Simon Community team encouraged me from the word go. They helped me get a handle on things and get back in sync with life. When I think back now, I literally didn’t know anything, I was so beaten down. I didn’t even know what colour I liked when I came in. Having someone like that staff member who saw something in me, nurtured it and stuck with me.

Sport has been the main thing in my recovery. Simon’s health and wellbeing service led me to believe in myself and encouraged me to go further than I ever thought I could go. When I was in recovery I started going to the gym. I was doing runs and tournaments and doing things socially. That was vital for me.

Last year I had a chance to represent Ireland in the Homeless World Cup, which was unbelievable. I would have been good at sport but obviously, through addiction, I would have lost that. I don’t allow myself sometimes to be as proud as I should be.

I’m going back to college in September to do social studies. This year I had the chance to coach football for a team of students from Trinity College as a fundraiser for Dublin Simon Community. I was very very proud, I have to say. It was me giving back but I was also able to show my experience of the health and wellbeing service and pass it on. The students didn’t see me as anything other than their trainer and their coach. I think that would have been one of my best experiences, that I was able to pass on something that I’ve learnt. It was just amazing.

I like sharing my story because I suppose in one sense it is something I should be proud of. It isn’t something I should shy from either because it can help someone else. I feel so alive and I’m just so so grateful.

I’d encourage anyone to support Dublin Simon Community in the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon because of the level of support they have given me. From Day One the team was always telling me I could, even when I thought I couldn’t. I believe in myself now. It just took one person when I started on my journey almost four years ago. They had a bit of hope in me and now I have a bit of hope in myself.

Dublin Simon Community works to help prevent homeless in Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, and Meath. For more information, please click here.

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