Newswire » Local News » Homeless Children: Tom’s Story

Homeless Children: Tom’s Story


Homeless Children: Tom’s Story – Our New Reporter Gillian Kelly relates the sad story of Tom, a 17 homeless boy who lives on our streets.

In my own personal experience, I came across a young man huddled in a sleeping bag trying to keep warm at the Ha’penny Bridge one cold January morning.  I asked him if he would like a hot drink and he replied ‘a hot chocolate with four sugars please’.  I wasn’t surprised at this request as it is common for people who are not eating a substantial diet to require excess sugar as a means to keep their energy levels up.  I queued in Butlers Café on Liffey Street, and bought him a chocolate bar as I thought it would go nicely with his hot chocolate.  When I returned with this for him he was very grateful and smiled at me with his sad blue eyes. I asked him if he had got accommodation over the past few nights as it had been extremely cold (below zero most nights.)  ‘No’ he murmured in a tone just above a whisper.

I enquired about whether he had contacted Focus Ireland in relation to helping him seek emergency accommodation.  He told me because he is under 18 years he would be placed in care so Focus Ireland can’t help him.  They can only legally help adults. I was surprised when He said he was under 18.  He looked older due to his stubbly beard and troubled face. He explained to me that he was only one month short of his 18th birthday so he didn’t want to go into care. I told him I was concerned about him been cold and I asked if I could get him some blankets to keep him warm.  He asked me to buy him a body warmer.  I thought to myself if I was in his situation what would I need to make me feel a bit better? I purchased a navy body warmer, some thermal socks and Nivea for Men wipes in Penney’s for him. 

There happened to be a young woman promoting Focus Ireland in Henry Street when I came out of the shop.  I enquired if it was true that Focus Ireland only facilitated adults or whether they had a service for teenagers as well.  She reiterated what the young lad had said.  Children under 18 years old were placed in care.  She said then there are almost 1000 children homeless in Ireland.  She had personally spoken to a 16 year old girl the other day and this girl had said some drunken lads had urinated on her when she was sitting outside a doorway of a shop.  I was appalled at this!  How can people be so callous as to abuse a vulnerable young girl like that?  She told me this girl had run away from home because her step dad was abusing her and her mum did nothing about it.  She had then said to her ‘Maybe I’d be better off at home because at least my step dad didn’t urinate on me’.

I thanked the lady for speaking with me and I walked back to the Ha’penny Bridge. 

The homeless boy was still sitting there holding his hot chocolate and slowly sipping it.  I handed him his new body warmer and his face lit up when he saw it.  I helped him put it on and I told him the navy colour suited him.  I opened the Penney’s bag and gave him the thermal socks and Nivea wipes.  I said I wished there was more I could do for him.  He said ‘You have done enough, thank you’.  I shook his hand and introduced myself.  He shook mine in return and told me his name was ‘Tom’.  I told Tom to take care and I would see him again.  He had tugged on my heart strings.  My maternal instinct had kicked in and I wanted to cradle this kid in my arms and try and protect him from his current reality.  Every time I pass the Ha’penny Bridge I think of Tom and wonder how he is doing.  I haven’t seen him since.  He would be 18 years old now so hopefully he is getting the help he needs and deserves.

And if not, why not?  He is only a child, what does it say about our society? Our priorities? 

Leave a Reply

© 1991-2014 Fountain Resource Group Ltd. · Registered Company Number: 193051C · RSS · Website designed by Solid Website Design