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'It's like living in a prison' - homeless mum with ADHD child on staying in family hub with kids

A MOTHER who has been living in a family hub with her two children for a year-and-a-half has described it as “like prison”, saying her son’s ADHD medication has been almost doubled just to help him cope.

Selina Hogan (32) has been staying in a hub in Ballyfermot, Dublin, with her son Scott (10), who has ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome, and daughter Lauren (16).

The family had lived in a hotel for six months beforehand after her landlord announced the home she had been renting in spring 2017 would be sold.

“Scott missed out on playing on his own street with friends,” Ms Hogan told He got really frustrated and because he has ADHD his medication had to be doubled in the last 18 months as he had no space. My son has Asperger’s as well, so he has trouble expressing his emotions. Scott kept saying he didn’t know why he was so angry but he didn’t like it and I knew it was because of the way we’ve had to live.

He was only on 20mg of Ritalin 24 months ago but now he’s on 35mg. For special needs children like Scott, in this situation, sleeping in one room, in a bed with his mother – that’s not acceptable.”

Ms Hogan said families were being left with “emotional trauma”.

“You have nothing, no space. We’ve had nearly two years with no proper amenities, having to live like prisoners,” she added. “We have a bunk bed. My daughter sleeps on the top bed and my son and I in a double bed at the bottom.”

Ms Hogan spoke about her family’s experience in the wake of the No Place Like Home report from the Ombudsman for Children’s Office, which revealed children as

Ms Hogan said that, while children and friends could theoretically visit the hub where she lives, it was only for two hours at a time. She said they were not able to visit the play or communal areas.

“So there was no point. If kids visited you’d have to take them out to the park,” she said.

“There wasn’t room for them to sit in the one room with us to play. Even if we wanted to stay out overnight, to go away on a trip spontaneously, we couldn’t. We were only allowed three nights a month to stay out. And to access those nights I’d have to ring the homeless unit and request booking ourselves out.

“That’s like a prisoner asking can I go away for the weekend. My daughter told me she went from being 14 to feeling like she was 25. She missed out on a whole period of her teenage life, when she should have been having friends on sleepovers, doing her hair and make-up and going off to teenage discos.”

Ms Hogan said she had heard extremely concerning stories from several mothers at other hubs. “They told me about their teenage children, some as young as 16, feeling suicidal,” she said.

“We’re about to move into our own council house finally but it’s going to take time to convince my children this is a permanent home, that we won’t have to leave. The kids had to see a part of life they should never have seen and they now know life isn’t fair and the Government let them and all the other homeless families down. We were made to feel less by a system that treated us like criminals for being homeless.”