This is what it looks like to live in emergency accommodation.
An Irish artist has recreated a typical emergency accommodation unit and placed it just off Grafton St in Dublin’s city centre.
Will St Leger constructed a 12ft x 12ft room, consisting of a bunk bed for a boy, a girl and their mother with one chair and a cupboard which stores their toiletries and on which a kettle and microwave sit.
“The installation here is a 12ft x 12ft room, which is based on the testimonies of the people who live in these spaces so the public, the media, the politicians and anybody who has a pair of eyes can look at this 12ft x 12ft room with a bunk bed, that has effectively a kitchen, a living room space and a bedroom space all in the one 12ft x 12ft room,” said Mr St Leger.
A total of 3,194 children live in emergency accommodation in Ireland and 2,335 are in Dublin.
“It’s a ridiculous situation. The whole idea is to build this room and put it in the middle of the street and imagine there were no walls. If there were no walls in emergency accommodation [and the public could see into them], we wouldn’t accept the status quo that we have now because we wouldn’t accept that we put families into these rooms and accept that to be living because that’s not living, that’s endurance,” the artist told the Irish Examiner.
“One of the things that I hope that people looking into this room will think: ‘How would I ever manage to live in this space?’”
Mr St Leger said the response from the public has been “very, very positive” since they unveiled the installation at midday on South King St yesterday.
However, he said that while people were curious, there was “very little public awareness” about emergency accommodation.
He believes this was the case because the narrative around homelessness was that of a rough sleeper in a “blue sleeping bag underneath a shop front”.
Mr St Leger said: “We need to open our eyes to what the full vista of homeless is in this country.”
The room was recreated in conjunction with Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) as part of the #MyNameIs campaign which aims to put a face to homelessness in Ireland.
“There’s been a clear downplay in regard to the seriousness of the homeless crisis and the fact of the matter is people are not aware of the conditions that homeless families and children are living in,” said Anthony Flynn, CEO of ICHH.
“There are far too many homeless children now, 37% of the overall homeless population are now children. That’s continuously on the rise and has been on the rise, month-on-month.
“We’re looking at 3,194 children spending Christmas in emergency accommodation, hotels and B&Bs. That’s not where we need to be. We need to not be allowing this to be socially acceptable and it has I believe, become socially acceptable.”
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