Belfast Telegraph

Girl pleads for Santa to help young 'homeless' man on Armagh street

By James Gant

An Armagh girl's touching letter to Santa asking him to give a young man she spotted alone in the street a home for Christmas has tugged on the heartstrings of the public.

Ten-year-old Berlyn Woods was in Armagh city centre on Saturday night with her mother Julie (39) when she spotted the "drenched and shivering" youth they believed to be homeless sitting outside a shopping centre.

"He looked so lost and alone in the world. Berlyn was so upset and annoyed at the sight of him that she asked could we help," Julie said yesterday.

They bought him food, drinks and gloves and Berlyn gave him the last of her pocket money - to which he looked up and replied: "Thank you so much."

When she got home, Berlyn packed a rucksack with gifts she planned to give to the young man the next day.

"She was utterly heartbroken at the thought of him out there alone with nothing or no one," said Julie.

Berlyn, who attends Armstrong Primary School, then wrote a letter to Santa which Julie, a cake artist, posted on Facebook.

"Dear Santa, last night when we were down the town we saw a homeless young boy and I am very worried about him and if you could maybe help him find a home and lots of food, water and a warm shelter and dry new clothes for a wee while and to have some company and have some money," it read. "I was very upset for him and I want him to have a Merry Christmas xoxo love from Berlyn xoxoxo."

But despite searching for the past two days, they have not been able to find the young man.

Above her daughter's letter, Julie attached a picture saying "we need your help" accompanied by a description. "Young guy in black trousers and black jacket late teens early twenties, was sitting outside Sainsbury's last night. PLEASE if you are about ARMAGH today and happen to spot him pm me," she wrote.

The family have since been contacted by charities People In Need and Newry Helping The Homeless all offering their help to find the young male.

One Facebook user wrote: "I think I saw him on Friday evening sitting in the entry between the back of Emerson's and Hawthorne's heading onto Scotch Street." Another posted: "I've seen this chap and he quite often squats near the furniture shop by Sainsbury's with a paper cup to collect a bit of cash.

"I've asked about him before and it would seem he has places of refuge. It's very near our office so we will all keep an eye and if anything needs doing or help given I'll let you know."

Julie added: "We will not give up though and every morning the first thing Berlyn asks is can we go and look for him after school again.

"It's gut-wrenching to think of him out there alone."

She added: "We all panic over the silly things for Christmas, but seeing him really brought home just how lucky we are, especially for my daughter who now realises the true meaning of Christmas is sharing what you have to help others."

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