For the first time in living memory, a homeless man has been sleeping on the streets of Dungannon in what has been described as a ‘sad’ development for the town.
Mark, who did not want his second name published, relocated from Belfast - where he said he’d been living rough for almost a year and a half - to Dungannon on Tuesday (September 15).
But his plight has prompted efforts to help him from the local community.
The 43-year-old stationed himself in front of Sloan’s newsagents, but said he moved to the bins behind Iceland at night to get what little sleep he could. Asked why he came to Dungannon, Mark said it was because “the hostels in Belfast are full” and “it will be easier for me to try and feed myself”.
“I haven’t been approached by anybody and asked to leave yet, so that’s a good sign,” he added.
Depressed and in pain from old injuries, Mark said he has been on the waiting list for a house for around a year, but so far hasn’t been placed.
However, a spokesperson for the Housing Executive said he first got in touch in March this year, and that they “provided emergency temporary accommodation on a number of occasions and made an offer of permanent accommodation but did not receive a response”. They added: “We have been in contact with the individual and will continue to work with him to identify a long term housing solution.” Sloan’s owner - and Mid Ulster Councillor - Walter Cuddy said Mark’s arrival in the town caused quite a stir.
“It’s a bit of a shock to a lot of people in the town that we have a homeless person lying out on the footpath,” he said.
“He tells me that he is down from Belfast. By and large a lot of people have given him money and coffee and sandwiches, and are looking after him. “It’s so sad (and) it’s a big shock to anybody walking down the street to see an adult lying out on the street in a sleeping bag.
“In big cities you would see homeless people, but it’s new to a provincial town like Dungannon.”
Depaul, a homeless charity with accommodation on Castlehill, said they would try to help Mark when Johnston Press spoke to them on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “While we cannot comment on the specifics of individual cases we are pleased to relay that this gentleman is now being accommodated in Depaul’s Castlehill service. “Fortunately a vacancy had become available which we were able to offer. Depaul has been liaising closely with the Housing Executive and Homeless Support Team to continue to support this man, and we will work with him to address his housing and support needs.”