Belfast Telegraph

Addicts' remembrance garden opens

Victims of addiction have helped create a garden of remembrance in honour of those who lost their lives to drink and drugs.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness officially opened the site at the House in the Wells hostel in Londonderry.

The centre provides support services and accommodation for 25 homeless men and has helped huge numbers of people since it started out as a community project 40 years ago.

Officer in charge of the facility Andy Bonner said the garden, created in the building's courtyard, was the idea of current residents who wanted to remember departed friends.

The centre's work began in 1972 when terraced houses earmarked for demolition were taken on by members of the community with the help of Denis Bradley, who was then a parish priest but who later rose to prominence for roles in the peace process and the policing board.

Mr McGuinness said: "As we reflect today on those who have previously benefited from the care and support provided here, some of whom sadly are no longer with us, we can be encouraged by the stories of those who have been helped to turn their lives around.

"I hope the residents will find that this garden, and the excellent help and services provided here, will be a real encouragement to them."

He added: "It is reassuring for the individuals themselves and those who are close to them to know that they can have a safe and secure shelter. The House has been a lifeline to many people in this city over the years and I have no doubt that it will continue to provide an invaluable service in the years ahead."

The House has become well known since it began its work in the Bogside. And while it initially survived on community support, it is now part-funded by the Housing Executive under the Supporting People programme.

The opening ceremony was also attended by Derry Mayor the DUP's Maurice Devenney, with prayers by Catholic and Presbyterian clergymen, Fr Gerard Mongan and the Rev David Latimer.

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