Belfast Telegraph

Springfield Road hostel residents face a barrage of bricks and bottles

By Chris Kilpatrick

Vulnerable residents at a cross-community homeless hostel say they are afraid to sleep in their beds due to an onslaught of sectarian attacks.

Windows of Springwell House on the mainly nationalist Springfield Road in Belfast have been smashed by bricks and bottles thrown at the interface property by youths.

Residents and staff are said to be deeply traumatised by the ongoing attacks, which have been accompanied by sectarian abuse.

In recent nights, a brick landed in the bedroom of one of the residents.

Those who live there, up to 20 homeless men, have a range of mental health problems and addiction issues and have begged those responsible to let them live in peace.

Some said incidents have dramatically increased in the recent months, with concerns the situation will get worse if sectarian tensions in the area rise during the marching season.

One of those who lives there told the Belfast Telegraph that the recent surge of attacks had hampered the recovery of some residents.

"One brick landed in one of the resident's bedrooms," he said.

"Staff and residents have been shaken by these needless attacks. We all live together here, from different cultures, religions but we have one thing in common – we are all trying to better our lives.

"We are asking those behind this senseless vandalism to stop what they are doing and take other people's lives into consideration. Their actions are causing distress as people don't know what they have done to deserve this kind of hostility."

Staff at Springwell House – which is run by Apex Housing Association – declined to comment yesterday.

It's understood some have had to park their vehicles away from the property over fears they might be damaged by the masonry thrown at the hostel.

A spokeswoman for Apex said: "Apex Housing Association is aware of an escalation in the number of reported stone-throwing incidents at Springwell House, Belfast in the past few weeks.

"On each occasion staff on the scheme immediately report the matter to the PSNI. "

A police spokeswoman confirmed the PSNI was aware of the attacks.

FACTFILE

Springwell House is a homeless support hostel in west Belfast. It provides shelter to homeless men who are dealing with alcohol and drug addiction, and mental health issues, while giving them the opportunity to improve their confidence and job prospects.

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