When I first came to Dublin 27 years ago the welfare sent me to a hostel for the homeless, the Regina Coeli on Morningstar Avenue. I stayed there for 18 months and I noticed how different it was there to the hostels in England I had experienced. Here there are facilities for dinners, tea and sandwiches and I remembered two Christmas dinners I had at the Mansion House, served with a drink.
I had to go into hospital as I was suffering from depression (bipolar disorder) and I didn’t feel like going back to the Regina. The psychiatrist put me in a hostel on the N.C.R. and I was given tablets for my mental state.
I was in that hostel for 20 years and what struck me was the fact that there was no pressures put on me to get a job or get my own place from the housing. I’m too old now (66) to look for regular work and I am thinking of getting voluntary work as an alternative. When you sign on they give you cash whereas in England you have to have an address to which they will post a Giro.
I went from being unemployed to getting Disability payments which entitled me to a travel pass which they don’t have in England and free TV licence, fuel allowance, living alone allowance etc. which are very welcome to those on limited means.
The clubhouse has helped me a lot, meeting new people and I look forward to coming here. Everybody is friendly, enjoying the facilities offered here and my typing has come on in leaps and bounds! I enjoy days out on the travel pass when I am not in Saol which would otherwise cost a lot; it is nice to see other parts of Ireland.
One of the nice things about Saol is that you can come and go as you like; there are no set times for attendance, If you don’t feel like coming in or have clinic appointments, sickness etc. There is no having to ring in (though people do).
The clubhouse is just one of the facilities available which I never found in England: it is excellent for people recovering from mental illness.