A couple who have been sleeping in a car in Sligo for three weeks said they had to borrow money from a relative on Tuesday to secure overnight B&B accommodation in order to stay safe out of Storm Barra.
“It would be too dangerous to stay in the car tonight. It was cold, ”the woman said. “We kept turning on the engine to get some warmth. I can no longer borrow because I will not be able to repay it.
The couple’s situation was highlighted by the Sligo Traveler Support Group, which protested outside the county council office on Monday as councilors held their monthly meeting.
The group expressed concern for the traveling couple, who have chosen to remain anonymous for the time being, saying the man was suffering from a mental health crisis and in need of treatment.
His wife delivered a letter to the council’s housing section signed by a doctor attached to the Sligo-Leitrim Mental Health Department, requesting that the couple be housed together due to the man’s background.
The doctor’s letter confirmed that he had recently been hospitalized at a local mental health unit and is now in the care of the community mental health team.
The couple had previously been offered emergency accommodation at a local hostel, but not together: “I couldn’t leave him alone,” his wife said.
The couple, who are in their 30s, spent several nights sleeping outside the city council office to highlight their situation, and also parked their car overnight at other locations around Sligo.
On Monday, the council offered them a double room in an emergency hostel, but the woman said that would have forced another resident to move to a hotel. “My husband couldn’t cope with this,” she said.
“Everyone knows that a person with mental health problems needs sleep and good nutrition. They can’t cook food on the car engine, ”said Bernadette Maughan of Sligo Traveler Support Group.
Group spokesperson Jamie Murphy said he sees the impact of the housing crisis on the mental health of Travelers on a daily basis, who are rejected by landlords even when approved for payment of ‘housing assistance.