A MOTHER-OF-THREE has spoken out about the reality of homelessness in Fermanagh and how she does not want to be “forgotten about”.

Heather Brown (39) has lived her whole life in Enniskillen and all she longs for is a permanent place to call her own.

She and her family now reside in a flat in the temporary accommodation at Castle Erne in Enniskillen. Officially, she is regarded by authorities as homeless and she is not alone in her situation. There are others living here too, including pensioners who face the same issue. At two and a half, her daughter is the youngest resident. It is a similar problem for many other people throughout Fermanagh.

“Homelessness is a massive problem for this area,” said Ms Brown.

As we sit looking out onto a busy junction on the Tempo Road, there is a constant whir of traffic and the occasional thump of a car driving over a manhole cover.

“There are 12 flats here; three flats with three bedrooms and the rest with two bedrooms. It’s like hen’s teeth getting into here.”

Explaining that there is a waiting list both for this temporary accommodation and for social housing, Ms Brown said: “I waited seven months to get in here, and I’ve been here 10 months.

“It gives me anxiety to think there might not be a house that comes free. There are people who have been here two years or more including families.”

Discussing how it felt to be placed in temporary accommodation, Ms Brown said: “I was relieved to get in here but now I don’t know because it seems the people in here have been forgotten about by the authorities.

“They think maybe we are OK because we have a roof over our heads.”

When asked if she thinks there is a solution for homelessness in the area, Ms Brown said: “I don’t know what can be changed about this and who is to do it. There is bound to be people above the Housing Executive who can get some funding for Fermanagh.”

Impartial Reporter: Heather Brown with her daughter.Heather Brown with her daughter.

Ms Brown is grateful for the temporary accommodation and says she does not take any of it for granted.

“The support worker here does try her best but a lot of things are over her head. She tries to make things better, she had a barbecue here and she really tries for us all,” added Ms Brown.

However, there are some issues.

“It’s very warm, I have a fan on all the time. I can’t open the windows there because it’s quite noisy, you can’t watch the TV with the window open and when you are cooking it gets really warm too as it is so small in the kitchen.”

Ms Brown pays rent, a heating charge and a service charge for her temporary accommodation. She added: “The only good thing is there is a tumble dryer downstairs and they don’t charge you for it.

“There are only two washing machines for the whole place, you will be in a queue at times.”

She claimed there are occasions when there are issues with both water and electricity.

“There was no hot water for two weeks for the whole building during the hot weather, we were all fuming.”

She added: “All my stuff is in storage in Belfast, none of this is mine.”

The family had previously been in private accommodation but when asked if she would move if she could find somewhere at a reasonable price, Ms Brown said: “It’s not going to be, not unless I knew someone who was going to rent a house and could do it a little cheaper. It’s a luxury now because it is so expensive.”

What does she think about each day?

“I think about getting out every day, I check the post box and see if there are letters. Sometimes I feel like I’m not going to get out of here, I feel like that because there is such a lack of housing around. But yet they can find spaces out the Tempo Road for a school and another development that has just gone up.”

She added: “There are plenty of fields around.”

The mum expressed her hope that she could one day soon have a permanent home for her family.

“It would be nice to get my daughter her own wee bedroom, where I can paint it and decorate. You’re not allowed to put nails on the wall here so you can’t hang a photo. All we can do is put her toys out.”

It is the little things for Ms Brown: a back door to open up onto a garden, a garden for her children to play.

“I just want to be settled somewhere permanent with the children.”

Does she feel let down? “I do and I don’t. No one else is saying anything about this and are letting it go on.”

And why does she want to speak out now?

“I feel like I have to, I don’t know why but I feel I have to say something. I have empty boxes sitting in the room there just waiting to move into our own place. It could be any time. I am ready.”