Tracy is nearing seventeen and pregnant. Martin, seventeen, suffers from epilepsy and, like Tracy, has spent much of his life in residential care. Pete has AIDS, Belinda is anorexic/bulimic. Brendan has fled from Belfast after an attempt on his life. Carol (Mrs Forsyth) – is a battered wife whose death, following a brief stay at the hostel impinges dramatically on the lives of the other residents.
Rosie has turned to drink to relieve the stress of having narrowly escaped prosecution after some of her guests in the B&B become ill with E-coli 157. To begin with she has little fondness for the hostel residents, viewing them as ‘the dregs’. However, she gradually gets to know them and realises her circumstances are not so different from those of the young people she has looked down on.
Tough Times illustrates that, in the midst of death there is life, that life is not just about survival but about a shared humanity and sense of purpose.