'I've had three birthdays and two Christmases living in the hotel'

New book written by homeless and asylum-seeking children highlights their experience and raises funds 
'I've had three birthdays and two Christmases living in the hotel'

Kasey Earley, 10, can look forward to Christmas in her new home. 

She's had three birthdays and two Christmases living in a hotel – but now Kasey Earley can look forward to a festive season in her new home. 

The 10-year-old is one of a number of contributors to a new book, written and illustrated by young people who have experienced time in emergency accommodation and direct provision. The proceeds from Homeless Stories, launched by Irish publishing company Emu Ink, will go to Depaul’s Families and Young People’s support services.

Kasey illustrated the book’s front and back cover, and wrote about her experience of living in emergency accommodation with her mother and little sister during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“We moved into the hotel when I was seven and we didn’t know how long we would be here," she said. 

I’ve had three birthdays and two Christmases living in the hotel now but this Christmas could be our first in a new home.

“I wanted to tell my story because if there’s another family who move into our hotel room when we finally get to move out, I wanted them to know that they’re not alone and even if it feels scary or sad to begin with, it won’t be forever. 

My family’s story in this book has a happy ending and I hope everyone who shared their story and any other family who share our story, will find a happy ending and a home too.”

Founder and CEO of Emu Ink, Emer Cleary, said: “It felt important to give children like Kasey a voice this year because families like hers have had a very different experience to the rest of us.

I’m sure many of us are growing tired of staying at home but for these children, a home to stay in is all they want – a front door, a back garden to play in, a kitchen to bake in like their friends."

As if to reinforce the point, the latest homeless figures show an increase in the number of people living in emergency accommodation in October. 

Data from the Department of Housing showed the number of people who were homeless rose by 81 from 8,656 in September to 8,737 in October – an additional 59 children and 22 adults. 

More than 70% of those who are homeless are in Dublin while there were 402 people in emergency accommodation in Cork and the increase sparked fresh concerns among homeless charities. 

The Peter McVerry Trust said it hoped the monthly rise was a blip rather than evidence of a trend. 

Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust, said: "Overall, the number of people in homelessness this year is down significantly on last year and we are hopeful that the figures for November and December will show further decreases as more houses come on stream and the eviction ban that has been in place under level 5 stopped people becoming homeless.”

However, Focus Ireland said the position of renters facing eviction is now extremely confusing, with the Covid-rent-arrears eviction ban staying in place until at least April 2021, but the broader eviction ban on all grounds due to end next week as the 5km travel restrictions are lifted.

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