Weekend social event will fund ongoing protest against expansion of offenders hostel

White line picket against hostel extension plans

By Gemma Burns

A white line picket will be held next Thursday (September 8) in protest against plans to extend a North Belfast hostel that houses male ex prisoners including sex offenders.

The protest will be held outside Thompson House on the Antrim Road at 4.30pm in the afternoon to highlight local people’s objection to the plans for the hostel.

Housing association Helm Housing plans to extend the hostel to a capacity for 19 residents, up four from the current 15.

The hostel was originally privately owned by the Presbyterian Board of Social Witness (PBSW) However the charity has now brought in Helm Housing to help fund the extension and a local community group says because public money is being used they have a responsibility to listen to local people and a full public consultation is needed.

Cavehill and Antrim Road Regeneration (CARR) have organised the campaign against the plans. They said with the large number of schools, crèches and children’s homes in close proximity to the hostel, it is completely unacceptable to extend it to house even more sex offenders.

Last week the group handed out thousands of leaflets outlining the dangers of extending the hostel and why sex offenders are not welcome in the area.

Chairman of CARR’s housing and planning subgroup Patrick Wilson said they have organised the picket and a fundraising night in Salisbury Bowling Club tomorrow night (Friday 2 September) to boost their campaign.

“Due to the overwhelming support demonstrated by the community at the public meetings held by CARR for the removal of sex offenders from Thompson House, it was agreed that the whole community should be made fully aware of our concerns,” he said.

“It was raised that many residents were totally unaware of this hostel’s existence and were stunned and appalled to discover that construction has now commenced to increase its size and capacity.

We are addressing these concerns and are releasing this information leaflet which is being funded by a community social event being held at Salisbury Bowling Club on the 2nd September as well as our picket.

“ It is vital that as many people as possible are fully aware of CARR’s campaign thus ensuring that our community has a voice.”

For more information contact the CARR office on 90771806.

 

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