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“I know it’s a house, but it’s not a home” Family Hubs through the eyes of children who live there

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) today (Thursday, 18th) published  No Place Like Home a report outlining children’s views and experiences of living in Family Hubs.

The views of 80 children living in eight Family Hubs in Dublin, Cork and Limerick are represented in No Place Like Home. The OCO consulted with children between the ages of 5 and 17, as well as with parents of children under 5. Children were asked what they liked, what they found challenging and what they would change about Family Hubs.

The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon outlined some of the key findings from the consultation, as well as his priorities for change:

“The Government’s response to the housing crisis has included the introduction of Family Hubs – purpose built or specifically adapted premises to house children and families who are homeless. Up until now we have not had a clear picture of the experiences of the children living there.

“Children told us, in their own words, what it is like to share a room with their parents and siblings, what it is like to go to school from a Family Hub, to study and do homework. They told us about what it is like to have to go to bed and turn off all the lights when their younger brother or sister is going to sleep. Space, privacy, noise, not being able to have visitors, feelings of shame and embarrassment, were all issues raised by the children who talked to us.”

“Well, sometimes I have to read in the toilet if my sister wants to go to sleep. I love reading, my favourite book is Harry Potter.”  (Lena*, aged 9)

“…the noise keeps me awake, I feel tired when I go to school. I feel like my eyes feel like they are about to go to sleep.”  (Chloe, aged 7)

I don’t tell people I live here, it’s a homeless hub… it’s embarrassing. It’s horrible, it’s not nice”.  (Thomas, aged 16)

“I know it’s a house and everything but it’s not a home. I don’t look forward to coming back here or anything.” (Anna, aged 16)

Niall continued:

“Children recognised the efforts made to provide facilities for children and they were vocal in their praise for the staff working in Family Hubs. However, the overwhelming message was that they want a home of their own.

“Based on the responses from the children who contributed to No Place Like Home, I have highlighted a number of priorities for change.

“I believe that the time has come to progress the conversation on including an express right to housing in our Constitution.

“After two years and considerable investment, an independent formal evaluation of Family Hubs is needed. What is the long term plan for Family Hubs and what will their legacy be?

“Where families are in Family Hubs, statutory time limits, as well as independently regulated standards are needed.

“Data collection must also be improved and we must ensure that it is fully transparent to inform the right decisions in the best interests of people who are homeless, especially children.

“We can no longer allow our children to live with the overwhelming feelings of shame, guilt and anger because they are homeless, through no fault of their own.”


Note to Editors


*All children’s names have been changed to protect their anonymity

  • The Ombudsman for Children’s Office is an independent statutory body with an overall mandate to promote the rights and welfare of children under the age of 18 living in Ireland.
  • Among the Ombudsman for Children’s core statutory functions is the independent and impartial investigation of complaints made by, or on behalf of, children in relation to public bodies, as well as organisations providing services on behalf of the State.