Lack of care for city’s homeless

A good samaritan is urging more people to care about the welfare of homeless people in the city.

Marta Jarzembska contacted the Star after encountering an elderly man sleeping rough in the streets of Lisburn recently.

Marta was concerned for the man’s well being and it dawned on her that there is a “lack of responsibility for homeless people” in the area.

“Who is responsible for homeless people who need help because they have to sleep on street?” she asked.

“Me and my friends decided to go for a walk and we probably saved someone’s life.”

“While walking in Lisburn we saw that someone was sleeping on the bench.

“We went to ask if he was okay and if he needed any help. He was a 78 year-old man. He didn’t have a place to go. T

“hat was his third night on the street. He wasn’t drunk or anything.

“He was from a Belfast Hostel but he didn’t have money to pay for it so he decided he would come to Lisburn and ask his daughter for help.

“She didn’t help him and he didn’t have money to go back to Belfast so the street was his only choice.”

Marta continued: “We decided to phone the police but they told us they couldn’t do much about it. We were very surprised but we couldn’t leave him there. It was getting colder.

“The police phoned us back and gave us a number for a Lisburn hostel but no one answered.”

Marta explained that after numerous calls to the police an ambulance had to be called as the man was having difficulty breathing.

“They just talked to him, gave him something to cover him and drove away.

“We were upset. It was after around 3am. After around 30 minutes finally police came over and talked to him and took him to a Lisburn hostel.”

She asked; “So who is responsible for help? I want people to care more. How many people walked past him before we decided to help? It’s a responsibility for all of us.”

A spokesperson for the Simon Community - a voluntary organisation which provides emergency accommodation, advice and community support for people who are homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless, said:

“We’re sad to hear that this caring citizen was unsure of how to help the man she found on the street. Simon Community has a free 24 hour helpline for anyone concerned about homelessness.

“If you see anyone who you think is in urgent need, call 0800 171 2222.”