“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”

A quote by former US President Ronald Reagan and a favourite of mine. It has a calming influence when you feel overwhelmed by the world, a familiar feeling for most of us this past year, when everyone, it seemed, needed help in some way or another but the distance between us made it feel as though getting that help – or giving it – was impossible.

And it was, for a time, but only until we got our thinking caps on.

Shortly after the pandemic hit and as soon as it became clear that “the new normal” wasn’t just a catchphrase, we all started to pivot – in our home lives, our businesses and our children’s education. We began adapting and utilising what we’d always had at our fingertips – technology – and all of a sudden the unreachable became reachable again.

In a world where we were all a little guilty of admonishing technology and its seeming ability to isolate us from each other – suddenly it was the only reason we were able to stay connected.

But still, there were people who remained predominantly unreachable. The sick, the dying, the homeless.

At Emu Ink we are all about giving children a voice and, admittedly, we too felt overwhelmed by the initial feeling of helplessness. Concerned about how our young authors were feeling in lockdown, how those who relied on school but had it taken away were coping and how those without a permanent home were managing.

And then we remembered, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone,” and that encouraged us to change our mindset and start to think, what can we do?

So in May last year, after a successful writing initiative that encouraged children on lockdown to write about their experiences of it, we launched a book called Home Stories. We then brought that same opportunity to the schools nationwide when we launched, “The Covid Book Project” and in the summer we turned our attention, very specifically, to children across the island of Ireland when we approached the incredible charity Depaul, to propose a book that would go on to help far more than the 20 children who wrote for it.

In November, we launched Homeless Stories – written by children experiencing homelessness during the pandemic and we know it changed lives… because it changed ours. In a time where we might not have had the same opportunities as before, to help the homeless, we created an opportunity and we were able to raise thousands of euro to help these children and many more like them. The feedback that we got from the kids and their parents around how helpful it was for the children to write at a time like this, how rewarding it was for them to see their stories in print and how touching it was for all of them to know that what they did, in sharing their lives, was helping others.

Homeless Stories helped, and continues to help, so many people months after its official launch – those who wrote for it, their families and the charity that takes care of all of them at such a vulnerable and scary time. It has also helped readers, young and old, to realise that their own situations, during this pandemic, might not be as bad as they think.

I am immensely proud of every child who shared their stories with us in any of our publications over this past year and I am grateful, more than grateful, to them for helping me.

Homeless Stories is available to buy here for €12 https://www.emucourses.ie/our-shop/

All proceeds go to Depaul’s Families and Young People Support Services.

By Emer Cleary
Founder & CEO
Emu Ink Publishing