Covid-19: Dylan Whelan (10) shares pandemic homeless story

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Media caption,
Dylan - pictured with his sister Leah - told Good Morning Ulster he just wants somewhere to play

Ten-year-old Dylan Whelan has spent most of the Covid-19 pandemic on the top floor of a Belfast hostel, with his mum and baby sister.

The family have been living there for almost 18 months and have no idea of when they will get a home of their own.

Dylan's story is one of 20 published as part of a "Homeless Stories" collection by children who are living through lockdown in emergency accommodation.

He told Good Morning Ulster he just wanted somewhere outside to play.

"It's actually really annoying and having to walk up two flights of stairs. I have nowhere to play because I'm on the top floor," he said.

"Sometimes me and my mummy go by the shop and it's the only time we get to go out."

Image source, Whelan family
Image caption,
Rachel Whelan with her children Dylan and Leah

Asked what it would feel like to have a home, he said he would like to "put up shelves for my lego sets", and finally be able to have friends over to play.

The family became homeless after having to move from a house they had rented for years.

After a short stint in another private rental, and some time with family when all three had to share a box room, they then moved to a hostel.

Image source, Emu Ink
Image caption,
The book shares the stories of 20 children, with cover art by 10-year-old Kasey Earley

Dylan's mum Rachel said they were able to talk more easily since he had shared his story.

"When I was first approached the book, I thought that might be a good way for Dylan to get his feelings out, tell me how he was really feeling about things, because he was just keeping things bottled up from me," she said.

"We're now able to speak to each other and he now understands that I'm here with him and I just want my kids to be happy."

The book Homeless Stories, released by Irish publisher Emu Ink, shares the experiences of children aged five to 13 who have been homeless through the Covid-19 crisis.

Proceeds from the book's sale will go to the homeless charity DePaul.