‘To have my own door, to feel safe at night, there’s nothing like it’

‘To have my own door, to feel safe at night, there’s nothing like it’
The Simon Community shelter in Cork

A FORMER homeless woman who moved to permanent housing with the support of Cork Simon after battling trauma-induced drug addiction has helped to launch the charity’s annual report.

Speaking at the publication of the homeless charity’s yearly Impact Report, which revealed that more than 1,000 people were supported, Jennifer Dennehy told of how her life was affected by her partner’s death, a drug relapse, and homelessness and of her eventual recovery and journey to securing a home.

She said she feels “blessed” to now be in her own home and have the support of Cork Simon.

Ms Dennehy said: “Within a few weeks, I lost my home, I lost my child, I lost the man I loved —everything. Drugs took everything from me. I tried treatment but I wasn’t ready to deal with the pain of everything and the guilt.

“I left treatment and ended up on the street.

“I’ve lived a living hell and come out the other side. To have my own door, to feel safe at night, there’s nothing like it. I’m blessed to have the place and the support from Cork Simon. My key worker’s been there for me through everything and I am so grateful to have her. You need somebody that you can trust.”

Cork Simon director Dermot Kavanagh said 2018 was “challenging” for the charity and described Ms Dennehy as “courageous”.

“Jennifer is a courageous and kind woman who has overcome great adversity and we’re most grateful to her for sharing her story which highlights many of the challenges that people we support faced in 2018, in particular, the severe lack of affordable and secure housing and the need for trauma-informed services that are sensitive to the needs of people who have often suffered great loss, isolation, and anxiety.

“Though 2018 was challenging, we have reasons to be positive; we increased our access to housing and, as a result, 54% more people moved from homelessness to safe and affordable independent housing, with visiting support, in 2018.

“For those who remain in need of our emergency services, we continued to make trauma-aware improvements. However, we had to extend our Nightlight service, with support from Cork City Council, given the number of people in need of emergency accommodation. This contributed to a 23% reduction in the number of people sleeping rough, the first decrease in many years,” said Mr Kavanagh.

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