Nothing to do, and all day to do it- the story of Pete´s life on the Dublin streets

Though life: Living as a homeless person in Dublin is extremely hard. Photo: Viktor Pressl

“I was trapped in this horrible homeless life, with little hope of getting out of it”, says Pete. This is the story about his own rescue back to a normal life.

Pete used to be homeless. He also used to be an alcoholic. But before all of this happened he used to have a very good life, and he never thought he would become homeless.

” I used to live in London, and was doing very well. One day when I was out shopping with my girlfriend I saw this fella standing in the doorway with his dog, begging for money. I remember saying to my girlfriend; “Why not just get a job”?
” Well, at the time I was not aware that you can not get a job when your homeless, and it´s very hard to get out of the homeless trap”

In Pete´s case he developed an addiction which led him in a down word spiral, and eventually out on the hard and cold streets of Dublin.

” There were a time when I was younger and I went out drinking during the weekends with my friends. I usually drank faster and stronger than all my other mates, because I liked getting drunk, and having a laugh”, says Pete.

He then went out more and more, and eventually the alcohol caught up with him in a very bad way.

” You know when you´re waking up on a Saturday morning with a crushing hangover and you just feel like dying. Well, I found a cure for that, I would have a drink in the morning”, he says.

Before he knew it he was not able to function without a drink, and that´s when it started to go downhill extremely fast.

” I remember one time I was walking through town, trying to find somewhere to sleep that night. It was about five a clock in the evening, and as a looked at all the other people around me I suddenly thought to my self, they´re all going home. That´s when it sank in, and I realized I had no home. That was really, really hard….” says Pete and shakes his head.

Clearly the memories are still hard to look back at.

After several years as homeless he finally caught a break.

” I was staying in emergency shelters. Through other people staying in the same establishment I heard about an organization called Dublin Simon Community,  who at the time was running a homeless residential alcohol detox program for three weeks”

Pete applied, and was lucky enough to get in.

” I thought to me self , that´s three weeks off the streets, and at the time my alcohol addiction was way out of control, so I figured that this would be the only chance I have”, Pete explain.

Homeless Veteran in New York. Illustration photo from
Homeless Veteran in New York.
Illustration photo from

After this he applied for an additional four months residential rehab program, and where accepted to that as well. This turned out to be his rescue.

” It was life saving. At the time I was at me lowest, and I was even contemplating suicide. Its hard to explain, but when you´re homeless to those extremes it´s meaningless, and you feel trapped. If you are staying in emergency hostel you have to be out most times by ten a clock in the morning. So for the whole day if you had no money in your pocket there´s just nothing to do”, he says.

Pete remember endless walks around the Dublin streets, and the memories are not fond to say the least.

” Today the weather is pretty good, but imagine it´s raining, you´re cold, your clothes and feet are soaking wet. Its just a sad sad experience”, he says with a serious face.

A homeless man at a busy street in Anchorage USA.

Pete says that there are more homeless people in Dublin after the recession, but more importantly the profile of the homeless people are changing.

” There´s a new trend of homeless people coming along on to the scene, and they will be people without addictions prior to becoming homeless, but once they are on the streets it will be more likely to pick up some kind of addiction”, he says and explain why;

” Imagine you be riding high, and suddenly you´re down low. Sometimes you need something to block out that pain, you need to escape, and get away. An easy way to do this is to take some kind of substance, and before you know it you´re hooked.”

Pete know how lucky he was, but also proud as he was the one who made it happen.

“When I look back now I invested just four months of my life in order to change it. I have not had a drink, or been homeless in nine year” he says with a smile.

Currently he got two months left of a degree course within addiction, and hope to be able to help others through his experience.

” I was one of the lucky one´s. I could see that life was no good for me, and I was fortunate enough to be able to do something about it”, says Pete.

Homelessness and Poverty:

  • The Housing Act 1988 defines a homeless person as somebody who has no reasonable accommodation to live in or lives in a hospital, institution or night shelter because of a lack of home.
  • In 2008, the Homeless Agency conducted a survey of homelessness in Dublin. It counted 2366 people homeless in the city, of whom 110 were sleeping rough.
  • People who are homeless may move from place to place and this can also make it difficult to get an accurate count of the homeless population.
  • People sleeping rough, living on the streets or in shelters may experience absolute poverty. This means they are living without proper shelter, food, clothing or medical care.
  • Often, people who are homeless have little or no support from family and friends.


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