Column - Taking care of vulnerable members of our community

Mary Cody

Reporter:

Mary Cody

Email:

mary.cody@kilkennypeople.ie

Column - Taking care of vulnerable members of our community

Tracy and her son Brendan (12)

A child who cannot feed, walk or dress himself is being denied the opportunity to attend the school that best suits his needs because of the lack of suitable rental accommodation in Kilkenny according to his mother who is telling their story in the hope that someone may have a suitable property to rent to them.
Brendan Bjorn McGinnis is a 12-year-old who lives at home with his Mum, Tracy and nine-year-old brother, Declan. He is due to attend St Patrick's School this week but to date his mother cannot find a home for her family. He lives with congenital CMV, which is caused by a virus and has caused his epilepsy, cerebral palsy, osteoporosis and lung disease.
Tracy qualifies for the Housing Assistance Payment and also has excellent references. She is an articulate, clean-living 51-year-old professional who holds a Masters degree. In many respect she and her boys would be perfect tenants - no late night parties, damage to furniture, complaints from neighbours about noise pollution. They are a family unit looking for a modest bungalow that will meet Brendan's needs which are wide doors (for his wheelchair) and downstairs bedrooms (he cannot walk and needs 24-hour care, which means his carer, his Mum needs to be close to him at all times.)
It is a hard thing to tell your story publicly - you put yourself out there for people to scrutinise your life and decisions.
Tracy is a brave woman to make this appeal and is a fantastic mother who is doing the best she can for both her sons. She is a single parent and one of her sons lives with chronic disability and her need for support is high but she gets on with it as best as she can and does so with a smile on her face and a positive attitude.
At the moment there is a massive shortage of rental accommodation in our city and county but there are still houses lying empty and idle that would in all probability suit the McGinnis family. Someone who has a suitable property available to rent would be in a position to make a real and positive change to the lives of the McGinnis family,
Tracy is wearing her heart on her sleeve - she wants to come back to Kilkenny and genuinely believes that this is the best option for her family.
All she wants is that the bungalow be accessible for Brendan and that it is within a 15 to 20 minute drive of St Patrick's School on the Kells Road. So often write about tragic stories with horrible outcomes and sadly frequently the outcome is definite and final and it is too late to do anything to change the situation for the people involved.
The story of Tracy and her two boys is different - this is a story where there can be a happy ending of sorts and hopefully someone out there will be able to offer them suitable accommodation.
They are not looking for something for nothing - they are in a position to pay they just need to find a house that can work for them.
12-year-old Brendan lives with more than the vast majority of us will ever have to deal with - his conditions are chronic. His mother, single-handedly is raising her two children but needs help and support and she is asking for it. She is sad and angry that her children are living in a house that does not meet their needs, that her eldest son needs to be in Kilkenny where his educational needs are best met and yet he is not able to go there.
There is still time to make a difference to their story and its final outcome.