Dear sir - This is just a letter to give a little insight on the lives of single, separated, or divorced men on the dole and not just those in Meath. Most of these men had secure jobs and a stable family life three years ago. Some are now living in single bedroom flats or, if lucky, in local authority hosing.
Take, for example, the man on long-term benefits - job-seekers' allowance. He will probably collect his dole money, usually on a Monday, which amounts to around €208 - including fuel allowance of €20 that's paid for six months of the year.
The first thing they do is pay their rent. Some have it deducted from their dole money, others pay directly to their landlord.
The average rent for a single man might be about €30. Usually, the weekly shopping is next and then they might pay so much of their own ESB bill.
However, I've noticed that, since the recession, a percentage of these men - a lot of whom might be ex-construction workers - will meet in their local pub, which would never have happened if they were in employment.
In some cases it has developed into a habit and some will tell you that they are on their own in their apartments all week and that they do it for company. To illustrate how serious this is there is one case I know of, where a man, who never drank in his life, went to his doctor thinking he was losing his voice. He was told, by his doctor, that because he was living alone he was not using his vocal chords enough.
Others might have lost their relationships through their change in circumstance and found themselves in the house all day with no sign of work, arguing with their partners.
However, if you take the example of a woman in a similar situation, they will meet up with other women, go for a coffee with them, have a chat, go for a walk with them and such.
What I want to stress is that one of the problems with men is that they just don't talk, they bottle things up, they seldom visit their doctor, which in turn leads to ill health - usually from poor diet and basically not looking after themselves. Some men actually can't even cook, or wash their clothes, which results in extra expense.
A percentage live off take-aways and maybe treat themselves to a lunch or a breakfast once a week - usually dole day. Correspondingly, there has been an increase in single men discovered in their accommodation seriously ill or, at worst, dead. A lot of these men can see no future.
Some, in their 40s or 50s say they will never work again, which leads them to despair, depression and isolation. And, remember, it is not their fault that they are unemployed but, sadly, this neglect just amounts to a slow form of suicide.
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