Kimberly will remember living in a hotel room, having no separate space to play or do her homework as her family tried to deal with homelessness.
Her sister Kayleigh was only a baby so she doesn’t have much memory of it but their mother Kelly-Anne Byrne remembers it well.
“No child should ever have to face and go through homelessness, children are our future, their voices matter, ” she said.
Now a Focus Ireland ambassador – the charity helped the family exit homelessness in 2016 – Ms Byrne was in Dublin on Tuesday to help launch the Focus Ireland’s “A Home for Christmas exhibition”, as part of its Christmas appeal. Some 2,500 children will be homeless this Christmas, the organisation says.
The exhibition features artwork created by children from families who are homeless. The children were all asked to create a piece which depicts what a home would mean to them this Christmas. .
The aim of the exhibition is to highlight that for many children a home is something they can only dream about.
“Living without a home is a very lonely and stressful experience, you’re trying your best for the kids but it’s very hard to see them not having things they should have like a place to play, their own bed and somewhere to do their homework,” said Ms Byrne.
Ms Byrne was just 26 years old and a mother to five children when she found herself living in emergency accommodation, a hotel room for the whole family.
“ Focus Ireland were so supportive during this time and provided vital services to help me and my children get out of that awful situation and ultimately find a home for our family”, she said.
According to the charity the number of families without a home is now rising again after dropping during lockdown due to the temporary ban on evictions and a short-term increase in access to housing.
John O’Haire, service manager at Focus Ireland said: “Our goal is that everyone, particularly children, can have a place they can truly call home. Whilst we helped 880 families to secure a home last year in partnership with the Government, there is still a huge demand for our services as the harsh realities and impact of Covid-19 are continuing to effect families all over Ireland.”
The ‘A Home for Christmas’ exhibition follows a campaign led by Focus Ireland’s Child Support Workers which launched earlier this month on World Children’s Day.
Children, who were homeless