June came to us over three years ago – in her 40’s but seemed over 70. She called 3 or 4 times at first, but never spoke and looked emaciated.
Her body language spoke volumes – with her eyes darting from person to person – she appeared like a caged animal.
After coaxing and understanding from Geraldine, she eventually removed her hat – her hair was green and matted. From walking around the city day and night, her feet were dirty and bleeding – she had an allowance book with £2,000 Irish unclaimed.
Over a period of time, we discovered she had lived in a women’s hostel for some time but was eventually barred. Geraldine dropped into a local church at 07.30am regularly, only to find her sitting in a back row pew, shivering.
A Community Welfare Officer succeeded in getting her B&B accommodation and we asked local Gardai to keep an unobtrusive eye. She started to collect her money and called to TRUST on and off. She was seen as ‘successfully coping’. The B&B shut down, and she disappeared. Assurances were given that Eastern Regional Health Authority staff had got her another B&B but no one could tell us where.
She re-appeared 2 months ago – after almost two years – in exactly the same situation. We start all over again. It is important that we do not allow ourselves to think that because she has ‘failed’ in society’s eyes, we must ignore or pressurise her – that she came back is important.