A CORK father who was desperately trying to beat a substance addiction died from a drug-related death last week, according to Christina Chalmers, Helping Cork's Homeless founder.
The man could still be alive if the city’s step-down facility - that is lying idle and unused on the Western Road - was up and running, Ms Chalmers said.
“It’s just shocking really because I knew him very, very well, he would have confided in me an awful lot and he was really determined to get himself sorted out,” she said.
“He appeared to be a real happy-go-lucky character, but just the curse of the addiction...he really was one of the triers.”
Ms Chalmers said that beds in treatment centres - such as Bruree in Limerick - sometimes remain full because homeless people who have been through rehabilitation have nowhere else to go once finished.
This means that new clients needing rehab can’t be admitted.
Ms Chalmers said the €2.1million refurbished “turn-key” Western Road facility could provide exactly what those people need - somewhere to stay one they had completed their rehab program.
She called for the necessary funding to be delivered that would allow the centre to open.
“It’s lying idle since 2007. Those beds in Bruree are being taken up by people with nowhere to go, so that’s 16 men who could come down from Bruree in Limerick to Cork.
Ms Chalmers said this, in turn, would free up beds in emergency shelters in the city.
It doesn't just help 16 people by getting this place up and running, it has a ripple effect.”
Ms Chalmers said for many who come out of treatment, “they’re straight back to the Simons and the Vincents and fully exposed to addiction”.
“They’re attempting recovery, they’re attempting to change their lives and live in recovery and they’re fully exposed to addiction surrounding them when they are inside in the emergency shelters.
The Helping Cork's Homeless advocate was heartbroken by the man's recent death.
She had worked with the man, who she said had been battling homelessness and struggling with addiction for some time.
“He was young, he was a trier, he was really trying to get out of addiction, he had a heart of gold - people who would know him wouldn't have a bad word to say about him.
“He had a young child who he absolutely idolised and he was very determined to come out of addiction.
“He was willing to go to treatment.”
The step-down facility, or former Abbey Point bed and breakfast building on Western Road, was bought by Cuan Mhuire in 2007.
Cuan Mhuire has said they could open the centre within weeks if the necessary funding was provided to operate it.