Belfast Telegraph

Union backs gran in dispute over eviction from shelter

By Donna Deeney

A woman who claimed she was evicted at an hour's notice from a shelter run by the Methodist Mission has taken part in a protest at the organisation's Clooney Hall HQ.

Louise Nash has been living in a Londonderry B&B for three weeks since she was told by management at Clarendon Shelter for women that she had 60 minutes to pack her belongings and go.

Ms Nash - a grandmother who had beem at the shelter for 10 months - said she was evicted because she challenged the new management regime.

She is being supported by the local branch of trade union Unison, which said staff were also unhappy at the way things were being run.

Ms Nash told the Belfast Telegraph the dynamics of Clarendon Shelter changed once the new management came into place.

She said: "When I first moved into Clarendon Shelter the staff were fantastic.

"However, since then changes have been made which had a bad effect on staff and residents.

"We were all told by management that our data was going to be shared with other organisations. I objected to this but we weren't given any choice about it. I was also asked to sign a new code of conduct, which I also object to.

"I was then evicted from the shelter, which I believe is because I challenged management."

Niall McCarroll from Unison said the protesters were calling on the Methodist Mission to reinstate the ethos of the shelter from 40 years ago.

He explained: "Our members are not happy about the ethos of the service, the lack of proper dialogue or consultation with the staff.

"We are calling for the workers to be respected, all their years of service to be valued and (to) form part of any decision-making moving forward.

"For the women living in Clarendon Shelter, they deserve a service which meets the needs of women.

"The people who are running it now think it is just the same as running a men's hostel, but it absolutely is not."

A spokesman for the Methodist Mission responded: "All residents at Clarendon Shelter must sign a licence agreement upon entry. Management has consulted with staff and residents and acknowledges that most residents observe acceptable standards of conduct while staying at the shelter.

"However, it is important to establish a procedure for dealing with residents who fail to observe and comply with rules and regulations.

"We take security and data protection very seriously and in accordance with each individual client's needs

"Clarendon Shelter is concerned that Unison has not made any representation to current management despite the operation of an open-door policy."

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