Petition to save hostel

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HUNDREDS have been pouring out their heartfelt reasons to support the vulnerable young people of Lurgan Foyer who face imminent homelessness.

An e-petition set up by Elizabeth Sousa, a resident at the hostel, has swelled with support since the Mail broke the story of how the Housing Executive has pulled vital funding.

And they are set for Stormont today (Thursday) to meet members of the Department of Social Development Committee which oversees the NIHE.

One of the almost 200 signatures on the e-petition was written by Conor Lavery from Lurgan: “Speaking as a past resident of Mount Zion, I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the services and staff at Mount Zion.”

Another former resident Nial Birney from Fivemiletown wrote: “I lived in Mount Zion from the age 16 to 18 and they were they had a great impact in my life from the support workers to the cleaners. They help me mature and become the wise sensible man I am today.”

And Wendy Gardiner from Lurgan wrote: “Everyone deserves a second chance and the young people in Mount Zion certainly do. There but for the grace of God go we. They are someone’s daughters, sons, grandchildren not just a name on a computer screen. Not to mention the roots they have set down and the support they receive from the fantastic staff.”

SDLP Cllr Joe Nelson who sits on the Board of Mount Zion as a representative of Craigavon Borough Council is bringing the young people to Stormont with Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly.

“I have been working with the rest of the Board to manage the situation with the Housing Executive but we have hit a brick wall,” said Mr Nelson.

Mayor of Craigavon Cllr Carla Lockhart, who wants the Housing Executive to continue funding the project, has called on the council to host a meeting with committee members of Mount Zion House to “ascertain whether or not other such funding can be sourced to rescue what has been a success story for many years in the Lurgan area”.

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “The Housing Executive has set up a working group along with Shankill Lurgan Community Projects (SLCP), the health trust and the local Housing Executive office to rehouse the residents. One resident has already moved out and we are confident we will find appropriate accommodation quickly.”