A Strathfoyle mother says she is “living in hell” as gangs of teenagers turn derelict houses next door to her into a site for drinking, taking drugs and lighting fires, to the extent that she fears for the safety of her family.
Photos obtained by the Derry Journal show the results of months of violent behaviour including scenes where fires have been set, broken glass has been scattered and fittings have been ripped from properties, all just yards from where are a young family are living in fear.
The Waterside woman, who lives with her partner and young child, says the young people involved continue to use her garden as a toilet and dumping ground and congregate at the area every week, She says she’s already contacted the police and local counsellors but that nothing has changed
Remaining anonymous in order to protect her family from reprisals from the gangs, the Derry woman says she is at breaking point with the ongoing behaviour and feels completely let down.
The Housing Executive, who own the house where the woman and her family live, say they no longer own the two derelecit properties at the centre of the trouble which are now in the hands of unknown private landlords.
“We don’t have anyone to complain to, we don’t even know who owns the properties,” said the distraught local woman.
“You only have to take a look at what we’re living with. The area is disgusting to the point that we’re embarrassed to ask people to come to visit us. In one incident, a friend’s car was damaged while they had come to see us.
“They use the wall around our home as somewhere to sit and our garden as a toilet and dumping ground. I cant even let my young daughter play in our garden. The whole area is full of cider bottles, beer cans, plastic bags and cups, and broken glass where they’ve thrown the bottles and left them lying there. The fence at the side of our house has had to be repaired on several occasions after boards have been broken off and used for fires.
“On occasions beer bottles and eggs have been thrown at our front door. Once the living room window was smashed and the lamp post bought down- landing in the garden. Some youths even arrive in cars and park up with their doors wide open and stereos full blast. My child has been woken a few times during the night with the noise of screaming, music, shouting and chanting. We find it hard to settle ourselves for fear of our property being damaged.”
The woman has issued an appeal to the owners of the properties to take responsibility and improve the situation. She says she and her family have been in the area all their lives and feel as if they should not have to give up their home.
“This has been my partner’s family home for more than 30 years so dont want to have to move but we are at the end of our tether with all of this. We have also spoke to a few of our neighbours who agree completely with us and have had enough too.”
She says previously youths in the area had blamed anti social behaviour on the lack of a local youth worker.
“I don’t think that’s the case any more but I just think there’s no excuse for what we’re having to deal with,” she says.