Workers enter ninth day of work-in to keep doors open on Northern Ireland’s sole women-only hostel
Online petition backing campaign to save women’s hostel surges past 10,000 signature mark
Workers at Regina Coeli House entered their ninth day of maintaining a service for residents despite a threat by management to close the facility. The women residents remaining in the building have refused to leave as they face a choice between entering mixed sex accommodation, which is inappropriate to their needs, or single unit temporary accommodation where they will be left without any support or access to onsite counselling services.
Regina Coeli House has 21 beds and is Northern Ireland’s only women’s-only hostel. It provides support to homeless women, women who have been trafficked, the sexually abused, those suffering from addictions as well as survivors of domestic abuse.
In previous days, management at the Legion of Mary-owned facility have responded to the ‘work-in’ by suspending the workers. Today they delivered a written notice to the remaining residents terminating their license to occupy any room in the building. The letter claims that the ‘management committee can no longer provide the services for which they have been contracted by Northern Ireland Housing Executive’.
Unite Regional Secretary Jackie Pollock reiterated his union’s continued support for the campaign to defend what is a vital service for the most vulnerable women in Northern Ireland.
“The behaviour of management at this Legion of Mary owned facility has been reprehensible. Not only have they completely failed to engage with Unite who represent the workforce, but they have suspended their employees, food deliveries have ceased and now they have threatened to evict the residents.
“Unite demands that the suspension of our members is immediately lifted by management. We reiterate our call for the Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey, representatives of the NI Housing Executive and the Legion of Mary to meet with us and agree a way forward to ensure the retention of this vital facility as well as the increased funding needed to expand access to this much needed service.”
Albert Hewitt, Unite regional community coordinator highlighted the large and growing community support for the campaign:
“As has been shown by the avalanche of signatures behind the workers’ online petition which today surged past the 10,000 mark, communities from all parts of this city and indeed much further afield are rallying behind the fight to save our women’s hostel. Today’s actions by management will only redouble that determination.”