Rebuilding Lives

Homelessness is not as far away as people may think, especially in these tough and uncertain times. It really can happen to anyone. It is never a choice.

Simon is a place that people turn to. We are focused on providing supportive alternatives to people living in despair, enabling them to rebuild their broken lives and empowering them to secure a safe home of their own.

At Dublin Simon Community we do all we can to help people move away from the things that have been holding them down for so long.

Read about the impact that Dublin Simon Community are having in the lives of thousands of people experiencing homelessness in Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Meath, Louth, Cavan and Monaghan.

People We Help

At Dublin Simon Community we do all we can to help people move away from the things that have been holding them down for so long. Please click on the links below to read some stories from our clients.

“I was rough sleeping about a year. I slept in parks, in a squat, down lanes, in shop doorways. To be honest with you, I don’t know how I coped. It was very very scary.”

“You’re living in a different world. I felt I was invisible to everybody. People are just left there, invisible and forgotten.”

“I wasn’t eating. I had chest infections. My feet were sore from walking all day. I was very tired, very down. It was hard to cope with the little things let alone trying to cope with being on the streets itself. It can happen to anyone and people don’t realise that.

“I couldn’t have kept going on the way I was, but I couldn’t see a way out of it at that stage. I was so stuck in what I was doing I didn’t actually know where to go and get help.”

“The Simon Community hadn’t forgotten about me. They got me off the streets and saved my life. I’m very grateful for that, I really am.”

“My first interaction with Simon was with the Rough Sleeper Team. They told me about Ushers Island, that they do a proper medical detox and you can go onto recovery.

“It’s such a change going from a crazy world into the Simon Community where you have a warm bed, you have food and a shower and most importantly you have staff and volunteers around you that actually care.

“You’re going through this process of recovery with people and even though we’re all at different stages we’re all going through it together. We’re all there to support each other and we all learn from each other

“It’s coming from where people are walking by you on the street to coming into this family. You’re a part of this community and there’s not one person there that doesn’t care.”

“It’s really important to feel part of a community and feel wanted like that because you don’t feel like that when you’re on the streets.”

“The teams here give you support and teach you new ways of coping. It’s going forward and trying to make a life for yourself. It’s all about the journey getting there. I want to think of the future because there’s no point in looking back. I’m going back to college and I would like to work with people. I’m going to strive for my life no matter what that means. What I’ve been through is what I’ve been through, and I ain’t going back.”

Rachel and her husband have three children, aged 12, five and a year and a half. For 16 months they were homeless and lived in one room of a hotel.

“We bought an apartment over ten years ago. It was only a one bedroom so when we had my first daughter we stayed there until she was five but then tried to find somewhere bigger. The recession had hit so we weren’t able to sell, we tried renting but it just became so hard trying to keep up with rent and paying our mortgage.”

Now with two children, Rachel’s apartment was repossessed on New Year’s Eve and the family found themselves homeless, living in a hotel room for 16 months.

“It was very hard. My husband had to get up for work and try have a normal day, knowing that we were all still in one room. We were living out of black bags, as we had no wardrobes to put the clothes. There were no facilities to cook, we couldn’t have a microwave, we just had a kettle and that was it. I had to bring my little girl back to that hotel room from the hospital after she was born so it was five of us then. I had to wash her bottles in the bathroom sink as we couldn’t have a steriliser in the room. I couldn’t prepare meals for her.”
However everything changed for Rachel and her family when they found a house with the support of Simon Community.

“We were so overjoyed. I think we cried for about three days, we just didn’t think it was true, that it was real! The feeling of knowing that we don’t have to move again, I think that was the best part of it. We were in seven different places, for seven Christmases moving the kids constantly to different houses or back to the apartment just trying to keep up with the bills. I think it was toughest on my eldest daughter, she had been uprooted so many times. Where we are now she has her own privacy, she’s really confident and is doing wonderfully in school. You can see a big difference in her. Knowing that we wouldn’t have to uproot the kids again, knowing that we weren’t going to be moving around. The feeling of being here now and that’s it, we don’t have to move again, this is our home.

“The Simon Community were a brilliant support. Our key worker from the Support to Live Independently team visited us for the first few months once a week or so, just to check in and make sure were settling in okay. He helped us set the place up and made sure we had everything we needed. He got us funding for new wardrobes and a gate for the front garden for the kids as we are on a main road. He was a great help, I have to say and he still checks in with us to see how we are managing.”

“Homelessness really can happen to anyone. It could happen to anybody tomorrow. It’s very bad at the minute and it’s getting worse but every little bit helps. When you’re homeless and have nowhere to go, it’s great to feel that you have support and there are people out there to help you. It makes you feel a little bit better, you don’t feel as if you’re on your own in the world.

“We are so excited for Christmas. My son asks us about it every night as we are putting him to bed and we talk about all our plans. I want to make it really special this year for the kids because last year we were in the hotel, I’ve already started decorating the house! This is going to be our first Christmas in our home and it’s great knowing that we don’t have to move again. Next year it’s going to be here, the year after and every Christmas after that. I can’t wait to just get back to what matters, just to be a family and live our lives.”

“I walked around Dublin city centre for six full weeks without even saying hello to anybody.”

Peter experienced homelessness for several months and used to pass the time by walking for miles all over the city, carrying his life in a bag on his back. With the support of the Simon Community he has now secured a place of his own and has recently gone back to work.

“When I was experiencing homelessness I walked around Dublin city centre for six full weeks without even saying hello to anybody. I couldn’t face anyone. I just kept my head down and walked and walked. I did it to pass the time too. The days were so long and lonely, with nothing to do and nowhere to go.

“Then I started to link in with the Simon Community who were working on the streets of Dublin. To be able to meet with the staff or have a cup of tea with the Soup Run volunteers meant so much to me. I knew they weren’t judging me and they understood what I was going through.

“Just to say hello to someone after six weeks, after not speaking to anybody for so long…that was worth its weight in gold. I’ll never forget that. I really won’t.”

“From then on I met Simon regularly. Meeting up with them became a big part of my life. The Rough Sleeper Team would check in with me and have a chat. It was re-assuring. They would ask me how my week was, how my health was.

“I would go to the Mobile Health Unit every week to see the doctor. My feet were quite bad from all the walking I did. The Simon staff would be there and it was someone to talk to…someone who would listen and care. Your health and your wellbeing is everything, especially when you’re dealing with homelessness. You couldn’t get that service anywhere else. People on the streets would be lost without it.”

“It was so important to have someone to meet up with and go through things that you’re dealing with. When you’re living without a home, even the simplest things become almost impossible. A problem shared is a problem halved as they say.”

“The helpfulness and resourcefulness of the people who are involved with Simon are great. It really is brilliant. They helped me make my way out of that very dark time and gave me the support I needed to move on from homelessness. They were actually with me every step of the way.

“Now I have my own place. I’m back at work and get to be a part of a team of people. Things are on the up for me now. For a long time, I didn’t think I would even get here. The Simon Community were my lifeline.”

“I was so panicked about losing my home but the Simon Community were there every step of the way. It made me more confident to always have somebody to turn to.”

“The first time I became homeless I was 16, I’ve never been in a place really. I’ve gone through nearly all of the hostels over the years. Then I had a break from homelessness when I got a flat where I was living with my daughter.

“After being there for three years my rent allowance was cut and I couldn’t make the rent. I tried to make the extra up myself but after a year I just couldn’t afford it anymore so I had to leave.

“Before I knew it I was back in homelessness. I had my daughter with me and she was in a good school. I wanted to keep that going so she went to live with my mum. There was no way I was bringing her into homelessness with me.

“I heard about the Simon treatment services from a friend and because I was suffering from addiction I put my name down for a place. I was in Detox for three weeks and then moved onto their Recovery service. I was in a bad way because I’d lost the flat. I really had just given up.”

“The time with Simon gave me what I needed to be able to come back stronger.”

“I was worried I would have to go back into hostels when I finished but because of everything I’d done with the Simon Community the county council were trying to get me a place so I didn’t have to go back to that.

“I was then accepted into a social housing scheme and got my apartment. I was introduced to Danny from Simon’s Support to Live Independently service to help me with moving in. Danny has been coming to visit me every week for the last six months. He helps with managing bills, linking in my community and accessing courses, I can talk to him about everything.

“Going through homeless services I was used to having staff around all the time so the regular support from Simon was vital when I had my own place. When I first moved in I was really nervous. I was just pacing up and down worrying about what needed to be done; trying to do everything so people knew I could cope.”

“I don’t think I was enjoying it at the start, I was just so afraid of my home being taken away and going back to homelessness. I’m more enjoying it now.”

“I’m now linking in with other Simon services such as Learning and Development to help me find training and employability courses I would like to do. I’m waiting to start one at the moment.

“Because of Simon, my daughter and I are back together again. She is living with me now and we just recently celebrated Mother’s Day. She got me great presents and pieces for our home. It means so much.

“I feel secure in my place now. I can things at my own pace. I’ll enjoy this summer, I can’t wait for it. With the nicer weather my flowers are coming through.”

“Sometimes people ask would I not like a house but it’s only me and my daughter so I’m happy here. I’m just happy there’s a roof and that’s grand for me.”

“It was one of the most difficult and lonely experiences of my life….”

After experiencing homelessness as a child, Mark was horrified to find himself back in the same situation as a single parent with his two young sons.

“When I got custody of my two boys I had nowhere to go. My mom’s house was too crowded and I ran out of favors with friends. We eventually got put in a hotel. At first, living in a hotel was a bit of a novelty but it wore off really soon. It was one of the most difficult and lonely experiences of my life.

“The boys had to share a single bed and there was nothing in the room apart from a television and a wardrobe. Because we had no fridge or cooker, we had to eat a lot of take away food. I was so worried about their health. I knew it was bad for them.

“I didn’t want to uproot them from school, so every morning I woke them up at 6.30am and took two buses to get them to school on the other side of the city. I’m proud to say they never missed a day.

“I tried so hard to protect them from what was happening. I tried to make it fun; like a holiday. I didn’t want them to be affected by everything, the way I was when I was a kid.

“At Christmas I had to wrap their Santa presents in the hallway of the hotel so I could surprise them on Christmas morning. Because we had no space I could only buy them something small as we couldn’t keep bikes or anything like that…and sure they had no where to play with them anyway; we were living on the side of a motorway. I put up a small plug in Christmas tree in the room, but the hotel had a strict fire and safety regulations so I only kept it up for two days as I was afraid we would be kicked out.”

After seven months in the hotel, Mark was moved to an apartment near where his son’s go to school. With the support of the Simon SLI Team, they are getting the support and assistance to get their lives back together. Mark’s sons now share a room in their own home, not a single bed in a hotel.

“When I arrived at the hotel, there were families who had been there for much longer than me and they were still there when I left. I was really lucky. Simon are helping me to get back into a course and I can’t wait to get back to work.”

“When you are homeless there’s an awful lot you have thrown at you. A lot of people look at you saying you must have done something to be where you are, you must not have cared about your kids.”

“As recently as last winter, from October right up to April, I would have slept out most nights, at least four nights out of every week. You stick with people that are like you so you feel like you belong. You’re all escaping something, but no matter how bad you are there’s always someone worse.

“I wasn’t able to handle the death of my mother and had to ask my family to look after my children. Then when my partner passed away a couple of years ago, I ran…I just couldn’t go back to the house. That’s how I ended up homeless.

“Living on the streets, you don’t know from one end of the day to the other where you’re going to end up. A lot of times there were no beds available so you would have to ring up to get a sleeping bag. It wasn’t gold they were giving out, but to me that sleeping bag meant so much. You then need to rummage around, looking for cardboard to lie on for the night.

“Once it’s cold you try to find somewhere safe as well as somewhere that’s sheltered, as it could start raining. You also need to be somewhere that the Simon Rough Sleeper Team can find you in the morning.”

“If I was lucky enough to have any change, I would get on the buses or the trains, just to get in out of the cold and space out my day. I’ve gone all over the country, just to get a bit of heat and be able to use the bathroom.”

“You stick out like a sore thumb. You think you’re keeping yourself alright but you’re not. Everyone knows you’re homeless, they just know by looking at you.

“One day my social worker got in touch with the Simon Community and put my name forward for a place in their treatment and recovery services. I was nervous about going in and it was a challenge every day, but that made me want to do it more. I was saying to myself “Yes, I’m going to do this.”

“I’ve always loved sport and football. When I came into Simon I started doing classes with Health and Wellbeing. Not just sport but everything that goes with it, sleep, nutrition and relaxation. I’m loving it! It’s just doing so much for me, mentally, physically and emotionally.”

“Now people aren’t afraid to sit beside me. Now I look like anybody on that bus or that train. It means the world.”

“My children always were the best thing ever that happened to me. I’m so proud of them and yet they tell me every single day that they’re so proud and they admire me. It makes the next chapter of my life exciting.

“Simon services need to be seen to be appreciated, to see what they are doing for people. The Simon Community is a lifeline. In some cases, and in my own, it’s a matter of life and death.”

With the encouragement and care of Simon, Tracey has now moved on from homelessness. Because of the support of people like you, she is living in our residential aftercare service and has recently started a Pre-Employment Course. She is currently the star of the Simon Football Team and is looking forward to what the future has to bring.

A gift of whatever you can afford will help people like Tracey this winter.

*Tracey’s name has been changed to protect her identity

Neil is a resident of Simon’s permanent supported housing accommodation. Neil became homeless following a personal tragedy and found himself unable to cope. “I was married for 17 years. She died in 2001 and I could never set foot back in the apartment again from that day on. I left everything behind. My children were young at the time so we moved in with my father but after about a year the pressure just became too much. I suppose I was still dealing with the shock of it all, and eventually it caught up with me and I didn’t know what to do.”

Neil spent the six years that followed sleeping rough before Simon helped him to move into their permanent supported housing where people learn the skills that they need to live independently again. The first night I moved in it was raining, torrential rain. I remember saying “Thank God I’m not sleeping rough tonight, I’ve got a roof over my head”. You move from sleeping out in the open to coming in to an enclosed space and it’s yours.”

Neil has been living in the Simon apartment for two years. This type of accommodation has allowed him to learn how to sustain a home of his own, while still availing of the advice and services provided by Simon staff. “This is a stepping stone to get you back doing the basic things that you lose when you’re sleeping rough. It’s the simplest things like making a cup of tea or feeling hungry and deciding what to cook for yourself. It’s that supported independence that allows you to get back into society again.”

During his time with Simon, Neil has completed courses and diplomas and has also attended Simon’s counselling service. He now has the skills he needs to understand and deal with any problems he may face in the future. In the past I wouldn’t have dreamed I would even complete one of these. It’s all through Simon that I have been given these chances.”

Neil is currently looking into moving on to more independent accommodation to be closer to his children and plans to pursue further courses in photography in the future. With Simon’s support to get back on his feet he knows that his wife would be proud of how far he has come.“With the help of my counsellor I have found peace now with her passing. I have been able to accept it. I know seeing my diplomas and achievements she would be very proud of me and how I am now moving forward with my life. That’s all that matters to me, making her and my children proud.”