A chef has found himself sleeping in the back of a borrowed car after he lost “everything he had” in the space of days.
Paul Cambridge, 22, had a full-time job, a roof over his head, heating and a place to call his own. Now, he’s been left to sleep in a car, in the freezing cold, with his two dogs Mike and Cunnigham.
Paul moved out when he was seventeen. Speaking to Cork Beo, Paul says he received his apprenticeship as a plumber and worked as one during the pandemic before switching over to become a chef.
He said he had a “beautiful place” that he was renting for two years, and a full-time job that gave him a “great life.” But that all “fell apart” when he was evicted from his Leeside home, lost his job and was forced to sleep in a borrowed car in Cork city.
Paul told CorkBeo: “My world just fell apart. I’ve been homeless for a year, every day I feel like I’m in a dream and I’ll wake up soon – but I’m not.”
The young man has epilepsy which he said he finds difficult to manage due to the stress of being homeless. He gets frequent seizures and often has to wait for them to pass before he can do anything.
He said: “I was sleeping in tents first, but then a buddy of mine left me to borrow his old car so that I would have somewhere to sleep at night. It’s not ideal. Some nights, it’s freezing and I can feel my feet stinging – I’d have to wear so many layers to keep myself warm.
“The seizures they’re bad enough and my dog usually knows when I’m about to get them and then I know that I’m about to get one. And the stress of being homeless has impacted it more. I’ve reached out to the homeless services, Cork City Council, emailed councillors and TDs as well as everyone that I think can help me. And I’ve gotten nothing out of it, no help. I’m just stuck in this car, in the cold, next to the river with my dogs.”
The 22-year-old said that most nights he barely gets any sleep: “Sometimes I’d get three, maybe four hours of sleep, but there are some nights where I can’t sleep at all. I’d get woken up the odd few times to someone hitting the car or roaring into it. It is terrifying. I just want a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, heating and a place that I can shower in and cook food.”
Paul has spent over a year reaching out to services to give him a hand – he’s been apartment hunting with no luck even though he has the deposit and a month’s rent ready to go.
“I’m desperate for a room anywhere if anything is going. I just don’t want to be living in this car anymore. I got so tired of it and decided to reach out to PJ Coogan’s Opinion Line this morning to highlight my situation.
“I want to have a normal life, I’ve never had anything good in my life. I have a strained family situation, so I can’t go back home, my partner broke up with me, I was evicted, and I lost my job – I have received no help.
“I’m not ashamed of my story. I want people to know what’s happening. It takes one person to start something off.”
This comes just as 11,362 people across Ireland were reported homeless in the month of December – the highest national figure on record. The week of Christmas saw 712 people, including 148 children accessing emergency accommodation across Cork and Kerry.
Five-hundred-and-three adults were homeless in Co Cork – the county with the highest homeless population after Dublin.
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