Homeless woman speaks about facing into Christmas while living in a tent in Limerick
NOT far from the banks of a river on the outskirts of Limerick city sits a small two-man tent roughly six feet long, two feet wide and three feet tall.
The tent is protected on two sides by high concrete walls, but the deciduous trees, which line the bank of the river, and once offered further protection from the harsh autumn winds now stand barren.
Storm Debi, a red-warning weather event that had hit Limerick the night before, has stripped the last of the leaves from their branches and cast them across the small green clearing. A dotted carpet of red and amber masks the two inches of water which sits upon the grass surrounding the tent.
However, the colourful autumn display does little to distract Rosearee Reid, 30, and her partner, Martin Rainsford, from the cold and damp reality that encompasses their lives, living in this small patch of council land they call home.
Rosearee, originally from Newry in Northern Ireland, has been homeless in Limerick since July. She came to the city as a result of serious personal issues and has been told due to the fact she is an outsider, without ties to the city, she can’t avail of the council-run homeless services until she has been in the county for six months.
Una Burns, head of advocacy and communications at Novas, a voluntary organisation which helps those who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, highlighted that the current homelessness situation in Limerick was the worst they had ever seen.
She also said that unfortunately, deaths of people sleeping rough on the streets of Limerick are “always a possibility”.
“They are exposed to so many risks which increase during periods of very cold and adverse weather,” she added.
“We got through it, we survived,” said Rosearee.
The area itself is clean and tidy. All of the couple’s rubbish bagged up, ready to be taken to nearby bins.
Personal items and hygiene products line the outside of the tent, neatly packed and protected against rain with plastic and towels.
Rosearee herself is smartly dressed. To the average person, passing her on the street there are no outward signs that she is homeless.
Rosearee describes the home she once had in Newry. “It was nice. I had a bed, I had a roof, I was able to cook, able to get proper nutrition,” she said.
“Out here it is cold and wet but I won’t say it’s miserable. I’m not here on my own. I have a partner, which makes it that bit more bearable. I can’t imagine what people are going through on the streets, out there on their own,” she added.
Rosearee met Martin, who is also homeless, while living on the street. But Rosearee admits that even with someone she loves next to her at night, this reality is not an easy one, and every day becomes a struggle just to get by.
“I never thought I would be sleeping on the street. I came from a home to living in a tent. People have a stereotypical view of what it means to be homeless. That they are heroin users, alcoholics, addicts and so on,” she said.
“But I didn’t ask for this. It could happen to anyone. That house there behind us, if something changes, if something goes wrong, they too could find themselves sleeping on the street,” Rosearee added.
The couple picked this area as it is outside of the city and in their minds, safer.
“Women are at significant risk when rough sleeping. Like anyone who is street homeless, they are continually exposed to adverse weather, particularly at this time of the year. However, women can also be at greater risk of physical harm,” continued Ms Burns of Novas.
According to Limerick Council, they activate their cold weather initiative or extreme weather plan in cases like Storm Debi.
On top of this, the council, in partnership with the HSE Social Inclusion fund, run a women-only service currently which consists of 23 beds.
The 30-year-old says she has tried in vain to get a job, but without an address, she feels she is locked out, and lacks the means to get help or help herself.
Rosearee’s case isn’t an isolated one. According to the figures from the Department of Housing, in Limerick there were 343 adults accessing emergency accommodation between September 18 and September 24.
A council spokesperson said: “We are working tirelessly to address the needs presenting, including bringing additional beds into use”.
Those who speak to Rosearee may question why she doesn’t go “home” to Newry, but, for her, that isn’t an option, due to serious personal issues.
As winter approaches, Rosearee looks to the future with a brave face.
“What can I do? Six months is fast approaching. We will just have to ride it out, and what will be will be,” she added.
Speaking to the powers that be, from the TDs in Government to the local council, Rosearee had a few choice words.
“They need to pull their finger out. It doesn’t make sense if you are from Ukraine they will help you, but if you are from Newry you are on your own. It shouldn’t matter where you are from.
“These rules, that you have to be from the same county in order to get help, should be scrapped.”
A spokesperson for Limerick City and County said that the Limerick Homeless Action Team (HAT) engages anyone who presents themselves, and “appropriate options are made available depending on the need.”
“If any individual is not accommodated on a particular night the (LHAT) engage first thing the following morning,” they continued.
The spokesperson added that if clients are from another local authority area they will support in returning them to that area to access emergency accommodation and to access long-term housing support in that region.
The spokesperson stated that LCCC activated more beds in 2023 than were available this time last year and that 83 single clients moved on from emergency accommodation from January to September.
With Christmas on the horizon, both Rosearee and her partner only have one wish.
“I would like a place to call home.
“To settle down, and start the next chapter of my life. But without the help of the powers that be, when will that happen?” Rosearee asked.
Hi, we’re fundraising for a local couple living on the streets in a tent. They haven’t since they’ve been on the streets for almost 6 months now been able to get any kind of state aid or assistance with housing or medications for epilepsy. Here’s the article written about their situation if you would like to read further details. Rose is from the North of Ireland, last I checked that was still Ireland, and her partner Martin from Limerick. Please help them in whatever way you can, even the amount of a warm coffee to take the chill off living in a tent would be helpful and greatly appreciated. God Bless your kind generosity.
If you would like to read the article in the paper on them living in a tent, it’s here: https://www.limerickleader.ie/news/home/1355687/homeless-woman-speaks-about-facing-into-christmas-while-living-in-a-tent-in-limerick.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook&fbclid=IwAR2c72vRDFyL_OaTHtwW7pgs411sATJaii8LL7kjLbEingQIKIOq_duEs2Y
If you can spare any change and compassion they would really appreciate even just some warm food to get them through the hard days until they can get some state aid.
Brian Mansbridge is organizing this fundraiser on behalf of Rosearee Reid.
This Blog Is Dedicated To An Old Friend Of Friend ~ Martin. Happy Xmas Guys Hope This Blog Helps Get Both Of The Lovely Yous To Where Ye Need To Be, Together. DannyBoyLimerick
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