Life in a New Home“The minute I seen the place I was just grinning from ear to ear.”

As heard on Today with Sarah McInerney

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Tuesday’s Today with Sarah McInerney gave us a much-needed good news story: Brian O’Connell reported on a newly-opened social housing development in Fermory, Co Cork, made possible by a partnership between the Peter McVerry Trust and Cork County Council. Brian spoke to two of the fifteen people who got the keys to their new homes in the development. Both of the new tenants had challenging backgrounds, partly related to homelessness and having a place to call their own would greatly improve their prospects. Brian told Sarah that the first man he spoke to has mental health issues and he’ll be needing a lot of supports going forward. The man told Brian that he had been living in his car for the summer, barely eating. He put his circumstances down largely to his diagnosis of schizophrenia. Brian asked him how he would describe his illness to someone who knew nothing about it.

“Sometimes I might get a bit delusional. It’s mainly voices that I hear in my head. It sounds like people are talking telepathically to each other. It’s a noise… I’d still think it’s real, but I’d easily distinguish between what’s going outside and what’s going on inside. Steady now again. Things are looking good.”

Having been homeless for a long time, the man told Brian what it was like to walk into his new home for the first time:

“I’d a big smile on my face anyway, that’s for sure. The minute I seen the place I was just grinning from ear to ear.”

Brian also spoke to a woman who is originally from South Africa and who has emerged from direct provision with very little support for herself and her daughter. She told Brian that once you get approval to leave direct provision, you have to move out by a set date and it can be very difficult to secure accommodation. Now she has a home and it’s made a huge difference in her life.

“It’s good to be in your own place, I could say. Now I’m so greatly happy that I can work and study anything I want to study.”

The woman is looking forward to “new opportunities and chances in life”, as she settles in to her new home in Fermoy. Good news indeed.

For more on social housing development in Fermoy, including Sarah’s conversation with Fr Peter McVerry – who gives his candid opinion on the new programme for government – go here.

Niall Ó Sioradáin

© The Listener 2020

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