New centre gives former homeless a helping hand
A drop-in centre providing support for homeless men as they adjust to living back in society has been opened in Londonderry.
The Methodist Mission has operated a hostel for homeless men in Derry since 1933 and the new drop-in centre in the basement of the Carlisle Road Methodist Church will complement the work of its mission in Crawford Square.
Sean Boyle, manager of the Crawford Square Hostel, said: “We discovered that some of the men who lived at the hostel but then moved out to live amongst society found it hard to adjust.
“They were used to having help on hand 24 hours a day but then suddenly they would have to manage on their own — but the drop-in centre will allow them to adjust.
“Here they can keep the links they would have built up while they were living in the hostel, meet up with their friends, learn to cook, get help with job applications or whatever they need.
“We also facilitate men who may not be homeless but for whatever reason need somewhere that they can come to for access visits with their children.”
Yesterday, Thomas McIntyre was busy in the kitchen helping to prepare a spread of food for the opening. But not long ago Thomas was homeless and in need of help.
“I am originally from Derry but I have lived a transient life and never really settled anywhere, which meant that when I came back here I wasn't in the system and ended up homeless,” he said.
“I have been here for a year now but I hope to get my own place soon. In the meantime, I like to help out in the kitchen.
“Having people to help you with the skills you need to live in society makes a big difference.”
Representatives from all the Protestant churches and mayor Maurice Devenney attended yesterday’s opening, performed by president of the Methodist Church in Ireland Rev Ian Henderson.
The Methodist Church Mission has provided a hostel for homeless men in Derry since 1933 but has had a presence in the city for more than a century. A new purpose-built facility in the current location of Crawford Square was developed and is owned by North and West Housing Ltd, providing 49 units of accommodation to single homeless men.