Rough sleeping in Derry city centre examined

People have been spotted sleeping outdoors at various parts of the city centre.
People have been spotted sleeping outdoors at various parts of the city centre.

Local housing intervention services have said they are aware of a number of people sleeping rough in Derry’s city centre over recent weeks.

There have been several reports of people bedding down in and around the city centre, with some local people taking to social media to express concerns.

While small in numbers, people have reportedly been witnessed sleeping outside shopping centres and in the city’s Peace Park and Diamond areas. It is understood those on the streets may come from outside the city and local housing bodies involved in homelessness intervention services have been proactive in seeking interpreters to help with communication so they can offer assistance such as alternative emergency accommodation solutions.

Eileen Best, First Housing Director of Operations at First Housing Aid and Support Services, said First Housing’s Night Support Service regularly patrols the streets to ensure people who are homeless have access to the Housing Executive and can be offered indoor accommodation options.

“We are ready and willing to help anyone who has a housing problem and needs a housing option,” Eileen said. “Help has been offered by the Night Support staff on a number of occasions to people who appear to be homeless, and people have a right to choose.

“As an organisation we are engaged by the Housing Executive and Supporting People to help. We are working hard with the Housing Executive to identify what the problem is and then address it, but nobody should be homeless.”

A Housing Executive spokesperson said; “In recent weeks, First Housing has requested assistance in accessing interpretative services in the Derry area to engage with non-nationals. We were happy to provide assistance.”

Services provided by the Housing Executive and Supporting People have been praised for helping to ensure a proactive and preventative response to rough sleeping in the north west.

Sinn Fein housing spokesperson, Colr. Colly Kelly said: “I commend the work those working on the ground do day and daily. This is not a problem we are used to and if there is a need for intervention that that will need to be done.”

Colr. Kelly also urged anyone with concerns to contact those agencies working on the ground.