Carrie Keegan lived on the streets for 16 years – now she sheds light on the fear women experience when sharing homeless services with men

A woman who has spent 16 years in and out of homelessness has called for more women-only accommodation in Ireland.

Arrie Keegan, 39, from Portlaoise, Co. Laois, struggled with alcohol and drug addiction from a young age and was homeless for a long time.

Ms Keegan, who said women often didn’t feel safe in shelters, believes her life would have changed much sooner if she had had access to women-only services.

She has been a service user at Depaul for the past nine months, has started studying at Liberties College Dublin and hopes to train as a cook in the future.

She assisted 3,670 people last year — including 2,848 adults and 822 children, according to Depaul’s annual report.

Around a quarter of users were women, including 297 single women.

Speaking of Irish IndependentMs Keegan said: “If there were more services for women you would see a lot more positive changes.

“I changed my life. I’m glad I’m going to college, I’m doing things I never dreamed I would do. I go to the Liberties two days a week to read and write.

The main point is that there should be more services for women as girls will be less afraid to reach out if there is help out there

“I’m doing a cooking class because I want to be a chef. I do all these amazing things.”

Ms Keegan said she started drinking alcohol when she was nine, turned to drugs at age 12 and was 17 when she started using heroin.

Her siblings all struggled with addiction as well and growing up she felt she had nowhere to turn.

“I was homeless for about 16 years of my own life. I would have slept on the streets and in tents up here in Dublin.

“The main point is that there should be more services for women as girls will be less afraid to reach out if there is help there. They don’t dare to go to some services because there are men in them.”

Depaul, which offers four women-only services, has criticized the “chronic lack” of housing and support for single women who are homeless in Ireland.

In 2021 it supported 681 homeless women across the Republic of Ireland and 291 women in Northern Ireland and helped 141 women move from homelessness into suitable and safe housing in their own homes.

Niamh Thornton, service manager at Depaul, said women who came into his care came from “difficult situations”.

They end up homeless because of a broken relationship or family, domestic violence or other difficult life events.

“Women may delay seeking support to prevent homelessness, especially if they are mothers, for fear of losing their children,” she said.

“Everything we have indicates that as of today, this is an ongoing problem that will only grow. There is currently not enough housing to meet demand.”

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/carrie-keegan-lived-on-the-streets-for-16-years-now-shes-shining-a-light-on-the-fear-that-grips-women-sharing-homeless-services-with-men-42005743.html Carrie Keegan lived on the streets for 16 years – now she sheds light on the fear women experience when sharing homeless services with men

Fry Electronics Team

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