“If we hadn’t had my parents, we could have ended up in emergency accommodation”
Social media star Rory O’Connor (34) shared how he and his family nearly found themselves homeless after having to leave their rented accommodation.
Popular creator Meath Rory’s stories clips mhomelessness aid can ‘happen to anyone’ and recalled the circumstances that him and his wife, Emma, in crisis.
“In 2019 we were renting accommodation for seven years and the owner had to sell the property so we had to move out,” said the father of three.
“But there was no affordable place to rent in my area, so we had to move back to live with my parents. But it was a thin line. If we hadn’t had my parents there, we could very well have ended up in emergency accommodation like a hotel.
“I remember posting it on social media at the time, just for other people to let them know. They just think of stereotypes when they think of homelessness, but it can happen to anyone these days due to the lack of homes.
“So when I was approached I said I would like to get involved in the campaign because it’s such an important topic right now. During the lockdown, there weren’t as many homeless people but now that we are back to normal, people’s rents are no longer frozen and people are ending up in emergency housing.
The actor, who appears in RTÉ’s Ultimate Hell Week, wants to tackle the stereotype what kind of people have been affected by the homelessness crisis.
“People can be homeless for a variety of reasons and people automatically think drugs or crime is the reason you end up on the streets, but it isn’t,” he said.
“It can happen to anyone under different circumstances; if there is nowhere to rent or if the rent is too high. We all know the rents in the country are outrageous and if you can’t afford it, for a family of four or five you really have no choice but to go to accommodation in emergency. That’s why it’s such a thin line.
Father of Ella, Zach and baby Lucy, he managed to save hard during the lockdown while living with his parents so he could finally buy his first home in Ashbourne, Co. Meath a year ago.
“It was quite comfortable and I don’t know how long we could have lasted [with his parents]. But we bought a house last August after saving the money for the deposit while living with them. Fortunately, we’ve been in a house now for about a year, so I’m really grateful to have my own roof, ”he said.
He has also spoken openly about his battles with mental health and previous gambling issues. He has a “very addictive personality” and has worked hard to overcome that, having started playing at the age of 16.
“I didn’t know it had a huge effect on my mental health,” he said.
“That’s why in 2013, I realized I needed to ask for help because I was on the wrong track. I got advice and help and that’s where Rory’s stories has begun. I wanted to start something that I was passionate about – it was comedy and the rest is history.
“That’s why I do so much mental health awareness stuff. With my own stories, I want people to understand that there is nothing to be ashamed of.
He was speaking as part of Focus Ireland’s Shine a Light Night campaign, supported by Bord Gáis Energy. The social media star will sleep in his backyard with his family on October 15 as he tries to help raise € 1.5 million in funding for the homeless charity.
To date, the partnership has supported over 7,000 families and directly prevented 458 vulnerable families from becoming homeless.