By Maria Pepper
A Wexford mother of three children whose family has been split up due to homelessness, said she is shocked and disheartened by the lack of support she has received after becoming severely depressed while coping alone.
Nicola White moved out of a rented house in Wexford town last Friday evening after receiving a notice to vacate from her landlady who is selling the property. She did so against the wishes of Wexford County Council which advised her to fight for an extension on her lease.
But the 33-year old mother of Mary (11), Megan (9) and Dylan (6) who has Aspergers said she couldn't continue living in the house after becoming the target of anti-social behaviour at Christmas when rocks were thrown through her sitting room windows.
Ever since the incident, she has been terrified of a repeat attack and has spent her evenings 'hiding out' in Wexford library with the children after school or 'walking around Tesco' to avoid going home.
'These people are constantly drunk and we are living in fear that they will come back and do it again,' said Ms. White.
'I went around this town. It was dark. It was cold. I was trying to protect my three children. I was scared. I was suffering from severe anxiety and depression. I was looking for someone to help. There were serious red warning flags there. When I look back on it myself I am shocked that no-one said let us help you.'
She said the Council housing department asked her to look for another three months on the lease but 'I would be dead if I spent another three months in that property. The only thing keeping me going was the thought of getting out of there.'
She packed up her belongings and left the house last Friday evening with nowhere to go. Her daughters are staying separately with a grandmother and an aunt while she and her son who celebrated his sixth birthday on Sunday, have been taken in by a friend.
She said the windows in the house are still broken because she didn't have the strength to do anything about them.
'I have begged everyone for help before something bad happens. I went to the County Council, the Gardai, the Women's Refuge, Summerhill Mental Health Centre, Túsla (the family and child protection agency), the school, St. Brigid's Centre and my GP.'
'I have told each and every one of them that I can't cope but I don't feel I have been taken seriously'.
Ms. White said her GP was very supportive and prescribed anti-depressants about a month ago. Her ability to cope has been improving as the medication takes effect. Wexford Women's Refuge staff also helped by accompanying her to the Council after she called to them at the end of January in a 'hysterical' state.
'I dread to think what the outcome would have been for me and my children if the medication did not kick in.'
She has received a number of visits from social workers at the rented house after contacting Túsla following the window-breaking incident.
'A social worker called to me four or five times. I've been to them constantly since January and I've received no help. I went to Ely House in a terrible state, crying my eyes out.
'Only for the support of my GP I don't know what I would have done. I rang Túsla last week and left four messages telling them I would be homeless on Friday.'
'I just want to highlight the fact your mental health can fail very quickly when you find yourself in difficult circumstances. There is a lot of talk about mental health but when I needed it the help wasn't there for me and my children.' Ms. White said she went to every letting agency in Wexford in an attempt to find another rented property but was told the same news in every one of them, that there are no three-bedroom houses available.