Homeless family make a 10km walk for food while pushing toddler in a toy pram

Homeless family make a 10km walk for food while pushing toddler in a toy pram
Caitriona Twomey of Cork Penny Dinners. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

A HOMELESS Cork couple walked more than 10km pushing their toddler in a toy buggy to get a hot meal.

Caitríona Twomey, who heads the soup kitchen charity, Cork Penny Dinners on Little Hanover Street, said that seeing the parents turn up with their toddler in a pram meant for dolls hit a raw nerve with volunteers at the centre.

The husband and wife had just lost their home when their child’s buggy broke.

Given their situation, they were unable to purchase a new one and could not afford transport to the city from Little Island, so they made the gruelling journey to Cork Penny Dinners on foot, pushing a toy pram instead.

The family went to Penny Dinners in search of help from Ms Twomey, who described them as very dignified and focused.

“This isn’t just shocking, it’s downright sad,” said Caitríona.

“The shock from seeing these things goes, but the sadness stays. At the end of the day, we’re all only human.

“Their whole world had fallen down but they fought back,” she said. “They made the best of what life had thrown at them and are determined to get back on their feet.”

She said that despite their anguish, the family never even mentioned their need for a replacement buggy.

Caitriona urged the Government to take stronger action on the housing and homelessness crisis that has left so many people in dire straits.

“Our message to them is the same, only it’s much stronger now,” she said.

“They need to take steps to alleviate the pain that leads to despair.”

She highlighted the difficulties facing poverty-stricken families of young children.

“Everything has become so expensive now, from nappies to baby formulas. Many of the mothers coming to us will ask for help for their children and not for themselves. They are the main focus.”

Caitríona added that life can be equally as tough for families on the verge of poverty.

“We’ve come across a lot of people who won’t even use their electricity,” she added.

“One man told us that he didn’t realise he was going blind until he left the house, because he had been living in darkness.”

Cork Penny Dinners currently dishes out up to 2,000 freshly made meals a week to those in need, compared to approximately 150 before the recession began in 2008.

:: To find out more about how to donate or access help from the charity visit www.corkpennydinners.ie.

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