Public protests halt hostel plan

Francois Le Goff

Northern Ireland homelessness charity Simon Community has been forced to drop its plans to build a second hostel in Downpatrick after protests from the local community.

The charity, which already runs an eight-bed hostel in the town, decided to build a 29-bed hostel to cope with recent increases in the numbers of homeless people in the area.

But local residents, parents and teachers protested, arguing that the new facility was too close to three local schools.

Although Simon Community attempted to give guarantees that the hostel's residents would not pose any threats, the campaign against it left the charity with no choice but to ditch the plan.

David Carroll, director of development at Simon Community, said the charity is now seeking to expand its services in the area by combining small-scale emergency accommodation with community-based services aimed at preventing people in independent tenancy from falling into homelessness.

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