SDLP South Belfast MP Claire Hanna has urged Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to prevent the closure of Belfast’s only women-only hostel service.
It has been reported Regina Coeli Women’s Hostel in Belfast will close later this year, with unions claiming staff have been informed they will be made redundant at the end of February.
SDLP councillor Brian Heading has requested a special meeting of Belfast City Council to discuss the closure.
Ms Hanna said it was crucial that the service remained available to support vulnerable women in the greater Belfast area.
The South Belfast MP said:
“Regina Coeli Women’s Hostel provides a vital service in supporting some of the most vulnerable women in our society. It is the only facility of its kind for the whole city and what we need to see is a appropriate support and facilities for those who find themselves dealing with homelessness, not the closing of the minimal support that currently exists.
"Social housing waiting lists are already out of control and one only has to take a walk through Belfast city centre in the evening to see the scale of the homelessness problem we are dealing with.
“The women using this facility are vulnerable and require intensive help and support. Many of them may suffer from mental health or addiction issues, while others will have experienced abusive relationships. We are also concerned for staff at the hostel who do challenging work to support the women living there and now face questions over their employment and future.
“Every option must be explored to save this facility. It’s owned by the Legion of Mary, but its funding comes through the Housing Executive and Sinn Féin Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has the power to intervene and stop this closure. It’s bad enough that this is the only facility of its kind that exists to support vulnerable women and we certainly should not be removing it.”