HOMELESS people in west Belfast have been left devastated after a drop-in centre was destroyed during an overnight fire.
The Fire Service found a well-developed blaze at the Welcome Organisation’s building in St Peter’s Square around 3.30am on Sunday.
SDLP Lower Falls councillor Colin Keenan told of his shock at the destruction of the centre.
“The Welcome Organisation provide a fantastic service for the homeless and it is was genuinely upsetting when I visited the centre this morning and saw the destruction that had been wrought,” he said.
“I also met with some of those affected by the fire, including homeless people who had turned up for shelter and support and were met with a burned out building.
“While it is good that the Welcome Organisation’s new centre, which was due to supersede this building in around a month’s time, is able to provide basic services to those homeless people in need of them, the new building is still not quite ready.
“Therefore I am calling on any and all agencies who can help provide shelter for those affected by this blaze to do so immediately.
“It is hard enough to be homeless in the dead of winter without being able to rely on the small bit of support you turned to so it behoves us all to do everything we can.”
Sandra Moore, who runs the centre, said the damage has hit some of Belfast’s most susceptible people.
“We will not be able to use the centre again such is the level of damage that has been done,” she said.
“Half of the building has suffered and the roof is gone in one half of the building. It’s literally gutted.
“It’s a shell and the other end of it is very badly smoke and scorch damaged.”
A PSNI spokesman said: “Police received reports of a fire at premises in the St. Peter’s Square North area of West Belfast, in the early hours of January 13.
“Police are currently investigating and would appeal to anyone who may be able to help with their enquiries to contact them on 0845 600 8000.
“Alternatively information can be passed anonymously via the independent Crimestoppers number on 0800 555 111.”