Memorial service to be held for homeless Russian man who died in Belfast

Hope Outreach for Homeless organisation
Hope Outreach for Homeless organisation

A Belfast homeless organisation is set hold a memorial service for a Russian man who was found dead at Titanic train halt last week.

Donna Connor, of Hope Outreach For The Homeless, said the remains of the Russian national who was in his 20s and known to her as ‘Alberto’ is set to be returned to his home country by his family for burial.

Mrs Connor, who works as a volunteer with the organisation, said she had known him for around six months. Alberto was found on December 4 and is understood to have taken his own life.

“His body is being taken back to Russia as his family are making arrangements for him to go back home,” she told the News Letter.

“We are planning on holding a memorial service at the spot where he passed away, but we haven’t yet finalised the details.

“We are all just totally devastated, and the other homeless people have taken it really badly because we all look out for each other and they are just like a big extended family. And we treat them like our family because that is how close you get to them.”

Mrs Connor said ‘Alberto’ had initially travelled to Northern Ireland for work “but was not able to secure anything so he ended up on the street”.

“He was very happy-go-lucky, a very pleasant guy. He got his arm broken a few weeks ago and that got him down. He was struggling with the broken arm and couldn’t even get himself into his sleeping bag.

“Alberto was over here on his own, had no addictions and was an ordinary fella. You could not have met a nicer person.

“He spent the last few weeks in the night shelter because of his broken arm but he normally would have slept on High Street, that would have been ‘his house’ as we call it,” she added.

“But it is not all doom and gloom, as one of the homeless guys has a guitar and some nights he plays and we have a singsong and crack and banter. They love to see us coming.”

Mrs Connor, who volunteers with the mobile unit of the organisation, says they start work at 11pm from Monday to Friday. She said there are around between 25 and 30 people sleeping rough in Belfast.

“Different teams go out every night, drive around the area and stop where we know people are. We offer them hot food, hot drinks, sleeping bags.”

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police attended the scene of a sudden death in the Titanic Quarter area on the morning of Friday 4 December. The death is not being treated as suspicious.”

Anyone in distress or despair, no matter what your age or where you live in Northern Ireland. can contact Lifeline for help on 0808 808 8000.