Management suspend workers at Regina Coeli House and instruct vulnerable female residents to transfer to uncertain accommodation by taxi

Workers and residents maintain ‘work-in’ to save Northern Ireland’s only women-only hostel for homeless and vulnerable

Unite launches of an online petition for public to show their support for staff and residents’ fight

Unite members working at Regina Coeli House have received letters from management suspending them on grounds of alleged ‘serious breaches of the safety and security’ of residents at the women’s hostel. Meanwhile residents have been told that they must leave on taxis provided to alternative and uncertain mixed accommodation which may not be appropriate to their needs.

Despite these developments, workers and residents will continue their work-in to save the future of Northern Ireland’s only women’s-only hostel providing shelter and support to homeless and vulnerable women. Supporters from across all parts of Belfast have gathered outside to show their solidarity.

Unite’s General Secretary Sharon Graham said; 

The stand of the workers and residents at Regina Coeli House has struck a chord with people across Northern Ireland, and indeed across these islands. The suspension of workers and threats to evict vulnerable women residents at Regina Coeli House are a disgraceful development – the workers and residents have the full support of this union. The Legion of Mary, the NI Housing Executive and Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey must think again. They must find a solution to the crisis which avoids the threatened closure of the only all-woman hostel in Northern Ireland.

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Murder of Ashling Murphy must be catalyst for change

Unite Regional Women’s Committee backs call for single Government department to address violence against women

Trade union Unite, which represents workers throughout Ireland, today (Friday) said that Wednesday’s murder of teacher Ashling Murphy must act as a catalyst for change, and endorsed the call made last month by the National Women’s Council for violence against women to be housed under one Government department.

Commenting, Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said:

“Aisling Murphy was a young teacher – a worker – out for an afternoon run when she was brutally attacked and murdered. Unite members stand in solidarity with Ashling’s family, community and colleagues.  The best way for us to remember Ashling Murphy is for us to ensure that her murder acts as a catalyst for change”.

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Demand that NIHE take over Regina Coeli women’s hostel to secure vital services raised by Unite with officials from Department for Communities

Protesters and staff at Regina Coeli House

Unite the union calls on Legion of Mary to do ‘right thing’ and transfer over its ownership of women’s hostel to safeguard provision for vulnerable women

Women-only facility providing support for homeless and vulnerable is best secured by Northern Ireland Housing Executive

Unite the union met with officials from the Department for Communities yesterday afternoon and presented the case for Minister Deirdre Hargey to intervene to safeguard Northern Ireland’s only ‘women-only’ hostel providing support to homeless and vulnerable women. The meeting followed requests from the union for a meeting with the Minister and protests to safeguard the facility.

Regional Secretary of Unite in Ireland, Jackie Pollock spoke after the meeting:

“We presented the concerns of our members and those of residents and indeed the local community to the officials to pass onto the Communities’ Minister. Through the Housing Executive’s Supporting People programme, Minister Hargey’s department funds the services currently provided at Regina Coeli House. She must now intervene to remove the threat of closure and ensure continuity of support and accommodation for homeless women”.

The Legion of Mary has told the press that they cannot sustain services at the building.

“Unite is calling on the Legion of Mary management committee to do the right thing and transfer ownership of Regina Coeli House to the Housing Executive who should now be prepared to run and sustain the service”.

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Workers commence 24-7 work-in occupation of Regina Coeli House in West Belfast

Supporters gathering outside gates of Regina Coeli House

Staff and residents at hostel for homeless women demand urgent intervention by Communities’ Minister Deirdre Hargey

Unite industrial and community members establish a solidarity camp outside the Regina Coeli

Workers at Regina Coeli House have commenced a 24-7 ‘work-in’ occupation of the hostel to demand Ministerial intervention to save the facility. The house faces closure at the end of February with staff members having already received advanced notice of redundancy from February 27th.

The staff will maintain workers’ control over the house ensuring support for the remaining residents until there is a guarantee from Stormont that it will not be closed.

The occupation has been directly supported and encouraged by Unite community members in the Jim Larkin branch. Over the Christmas period, they ensured deliveries were made when residents were left without food or oil. Unite industrial and community members have established a solidarity protest camp outside the Regina Coeli.

The action of the Unite members was hailed by Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham.

“I want to commend the Unite members working at Regina Coeli House who have taken this morning’s radical action as well as the members in the Jim Larkin community branch who have played a vital role. This will put the impending closure of this vital facility firmly on top of the agenda of the Stormont Executive.

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Unite seeks urgent meeting with Communities’ Minister over impending closure of Regina Coeli Women’s Hostel in West Belfast

Minimum pay workers receive notice of pending redundancy for February 27th at only women-only facility offering accommodation and addiction support for homeless in Northern Ireland

Regina Coeli house, at Lakeglen avenue in West Belfast, has provided a refuge to homeless and vulnerable women since 1935. The facility, owned by the Legion of Mary but funded by the NIHE through its Supporting People programme is the only facility offering exclusively female accommodation to support those suffering from addiction, mental health difficulties, homelessness and abuse.]]

In November, staff at the facility were plunged into uncertainty as media reported on the likelihood of closure within months. Workers were already fearful for the future given the exceptionally high staff turnover rate and the rapid decline in the number of residents at the 21 bed facility over the period of the Covid pandemic.

Taryn Trainor, Regional Equalities and Women’s Officer

A part of what now appears a concerted effort to clear the amenity, workers have had to witness vulnerable residents being removed from the all-female house into mixed accommodation despite their needs.

The staff at the house have joined Unite the union and in the absence of adequate food or heating provision, Unite’s Jim Larkin community branch has stepped up to provide food supplies to residents.

Unite Regional Equalities & Women’s Officer Taryn Trainor highlighted the need for this facility.

“Regina Coeli House is the only facility offering women-only accommodation for the homeless and those suffering from mental health or addiction difficulties. In some cases, the residents may have experienced violence or trauma from a violent partner and need an all-female facility to feel safe and less vulnerable and yet they have been forced into mixed accommodation. 

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