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Sixth homeless death in Belfast sparks new call for action

By David Young

Published 16/09/2016

The death of a homeless man in a Salvation Army night shelter has sparked a call for greater investment in services to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Image posed by model
The death of a homeless man in a Salvation Army night shelter has sparked a call for greater investment in services to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Image posed by model

The death of a homeless man in a Salvation Army night shelter has sparked a call for greater investment in services to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

The man, who died in the charity's Centenary House in Belfast, was named locally as Steven McLaughlin.

It brings to six the total of homeless people who have died in the city this year.

Anti-homelessness campaigner, councillor Paul McCusker, said Mr McLaughlin was well-known to people and organisations working with the homeless in the city.

Mr McCusker said last night: "His death will come as a shock to everyone working with the homeless in Belfast. He was a bit of a character.

"It will affect a lot of people."

The SDLP councillor called for more resources to be made available to help homeless people and those at risk of homelessness.

"The hostels are all full on a daily basis," he said.

"We need more bedspaces."

But he added that while a bed for the night was important, essentially it was just treating a symptom.

"We need more investment in mental health services and addiction services, as well as a preventative programme to help people before they get into the cycle of homelessness and hostel life."

The cause of Mr McLaughlin's death is not known. A post-mortem is to be carried out.

The Salvation Army said last night: "We are deeply saddened by the death of a service user at our night shelter in Belfast on the evening of Tuesday, September 13.

"We commend the night staff on how they handled this very sad event and for the support that they provided to him during his recent stays in the night shelter."

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