Belfast Telegraph

Tributes to homeless Catherine Kenny removed from Belfast shop doorway scene of death

By Amanda Ferguson

Touching tributes left in a Belfast shop doorway where a homeless woman died last month have been cleared away.

Some of the cards, photographs, notes and other keepsakes left in memory of Catherine Kenny from Downpatrick have been taken by her family and the Welcome Organisation, while the council removed flowers and other perishable items.

The 32-year-old died on March 19 in the entrance of an empty retail unit in Donegall Place just weeks after her close friend William 'Jimmy' Coulter died in similar circumstances.

The mother-of-one was the fifth homeless person to die on the streets of Belfast since the start of the year. Friends said she had been living on the streets for 11 months.

Following her passing bunches of flowers, poems, pictures and other items were left by her friends and members of the public who were shocked at the circumstances of her death.

Speaking at the time, Catherine's sister Lee-Maria Kenny Hughes told of her devastation. She said the family had tried on many occasions to help, but Catherine's addiction to drugs and alcohol had "gripped her".

At a homelessness summit in Belfast last week Simon Community chief executive Jim Dennison said the five deaths "bring into sharp focus the need for urgent action".

He believes homelessness can be ended and called on the issue to be prioritised in the next Programme for Government. The Simon Community is the largest provider of emergency, shared and temporary accommodation services for the homeless, providing 385 beds across 21 sites.

Of the people the Simon Community works with, 40% have found themselves homeless because of family breakdown and relationship disputes, and around 50% of the people it works with are under 25.

Young people living in the Simon Community's Belfast Foyer are currently taking part in a project exploring youth homelessness in Northern Ireland, and their experience of what it is like.

Among them is Corey (20), who has been a resident at the Belfast Foyer since December. With support from Ikea, Wheelworks and Helm Housing, Corey and other residents are turning a tired common room into a cosy, homely space to socialise in and develop new skills including cooking and painting.

"Since I have been in the Foyer I have really started to turn my life around," Corey said. "The Without Doors Project helped me build skills and confidence, and is helping me find a route out of homelessness."

Belfast Telegraph

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