Mandy would be ‘lost’ with­out it

Fingal Independent - - NEWS -

MANDY, a sin­gle mother with seven chil­dren, has been com­ing to Bal­brig­gan Soup Kitchen since the cen­tre first opened last Sep­tem­ber. She has lived in sup­ported ac­com­mo­da­tion in the town the past two years, in a two-bed­room apart­ment that ‘barely fits ev­ery­one in.’

Com­ing to the cen­tre has meant she has been able to pro­vide reg­u­lar, healthy meals for her chil­dren, and for her­self per­son­ally, has been a ‘life-saver.’ If the cen­tre wasn’t there, she says, she’d be ‘wan­der­ing the streets’ with her chil­dren.

Cur­rently on the hous­ing list, Mandy says she was very lucky to get the apart­ment in Bal­brig­gan, but that it sim­ply isn’t big enough. She is hop­ing to find suit­able ac­com­mo­da­tion in Swords, as all her sup­ports, the clinic she at­tends and her doc­tor are sit­u­ated there. The coun­cil, she says, have of­fered her a one-bed­room apart­ment in the town, but she had to turn it down due to its size.

Speak­ing to The Fin­gal In­de­pen­dent the week be­fore Christ­mas, she said: ‘I’d be lost with­out here. The staff are lovely. If you went into a nor­mal restau­rant, they’d just give you your food and that’s it, but here, they sit down and have a chat with you. Be­fore I started com­ing here, my health was very bad. I was in the doc­tor’s every week with de­pres­sion and walk­ing up and down the beach feel­ing lost. I had no one to talk to, so com­ing here has re­ally helped me.’

She said: ‘It’s not just about food. It’s about mix­ing with peo­ple from dif­fer­ent back­grounds. Most of us have men­tal health prob­lems. There was an­other girl here to­day, and she’s go­ing into hos­pi­tal for men­tal health is­sues and she was cry­ing be­cause she said she had noth­ing else only here.

‘So we’ll be able to visit her and bring up py­ja­mas and that, so it was nice for her to know she had us. Ev­ery­one gets on and helps ev­ery­one else out. We might have a lit­tle fall out every now and then, but we’re friends again the next week.’

She said: ‘Com­ing here is good for the kids, be­cause they’re able to come in and eat some­thing healthy. And Mark (the founder of Bal­brig­gan Soup Kitchen) is so nice. I came home the other day and there was a bas­ket of food there for me. That would do me the whole of Christ­mas, so I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated it.

‘I’ll be com­ing over the Christ­mas. I’ve no fam­ily, so at least it’s some­where to go.’

Bal­brig­gan Soup Kitchen pro­vides a life­line for peo­ple like Mandy.

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