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Lisa Mason lived homeless for years and spent endless days in despair over how difficult her life had become.
But with support, she turned everything around and now offers hope to everyone who is homeless. She has qualifications in veterinary medicine and forensics.
But every time she turns the key in her own apartment, she still gets emotional.
“I don’t think people know what it’s like to have a roof over their heads after being homeless,” she says.
“When you’re in a hostel, you have maybe 20 people above you or people knocking on your door at four in the morning.
“So having my own key and turning the lock on the door behind you still makes me emotional. Once you’ve had this experience, it means so much to have your own space to call home. “
Now Lisa is paying it to the Irish charity that helped her turn her life around.
She supports Dublin Simon’s campaign The Longest Day on June 21st.
Attendees are asked to set up a fundraising page and host a sponsored swim in the ocean.
Lisa says it’s very difficult to sleep rough.
Lisa says it’s very difficult to sleep rough.
The longest day certainly resonates with Lisa, who found tedious days with little to do, one of the darkest and most difficult things to be homeless.
“It’s really indescribable because it’s not life, you are not part of anything, you are not part of society.
“Every day is just so long. And because you have no structure, nothing to do, there is always chaos. “
Lisa became homeless or used homeless services for some time after her life was turned upside down after a great personal loss.
“I tragically lost my partner in 2010 and everything went downhill from then on.
“I suffered from my mental health, I was in a very dark place. I lost everything. Absolutely everything you can imagine, including my home.
“I had my own apartment – I had a good job, I worked for one of the major financial institutions in Dublin – for absolutely nothing.”
During this time, she shared her experiences with other people who were homeless or interacting in service. “I’ve met the best people, but hearing their stories would break your heart.”
But even in the worst of times, Dublin kept Simon in touch through her outreach services and was there to help her when she hit a turning point.
“Dublin Simon bends over to try to get you back into a kind of normalcy.
“And that’s what I wanted to go back to, the normal life that I had. I insisted on that.
“I think over the last year people’s eyes have definitely been opened more because we’ve seen people lose everything.
“But two or three years ago, homelessness was synonymous with addiction and alcoholism.
“People don’t go out on purpose to do this, to end up in this kind of life. I know I didn’t.
“It’s been tough and I’ve hurt a lot of people and there are still consequences that I pay the price for and which I will probably have for a long time to come.
“You would feel so inadequate. It could be six in the morning and when you’ve slept you could hose people out of the way.
“It’s a terrible thing. Many homeless people do not like to go to the hostels for personal reasons.
“Many prefer to sleep on the street and that is also very sad.”
Eventually, with the assistance of Dublin Simon, Lisa was provided emergency shelter and during that time she decided to take the challenging and life-affirming steps to turn her life around.
“When I was in the shelter, I said, ‘No, I want my life back to the way it was.’ I knew it would never be like this … I had lost the love of my life.
“I’m still single after 11 years.
“But I wanted to start training again. I knew that was the beginning because I was unemployed for a few years. I just wanted to do something again that I was passionate about. “
Forensics was one of those passions – Lisa has been fascinated by crime and crime solving for years, as has skin care and animals.
Today she is a trained veterinarian and also completed a forensics course at the top of her class.
She has no doubt what was best about changing her life.
“My family. I got them through a terrible time. Now we have such a great relationship.
“My parents are absolutely great people, my whole family. Family was the most important thing to me because I wasn’t there on occasions and I want that to never happen again.”
Although a year of Covid created more difficulties and delayed further studies,
Lisa is optimistic about her future and would like to get a job. She has also taken in a rescue dog, a husky named Luna, whom she loves.
“People say to me, ‘You saved their life’. No, she definitely saved mine. It is unbelievable, it really is. “
- On June 21st and in partnership with Irish printmaker JANDO, Dublin Simon calls on everyone to get involved and support some of the most vulnerable in our society, for whom every day is the longest day. Public support can be offered through a simple donation, fundraising for your own bathroom that day or by purchasing a limited edition JANDO print, the proceeds of which will go to this good cause. Log into dubsimon.ie to sign up for The Longest Day challenge
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