A local man will be bearing the cold winter weather this Sunday night to find out what it’s like to sleep rough on the streets of Lisburn.
Philip Webster, 36, from Ballymacash, a supporter of the Feeding Belfast charity which helps homeless people, will be giving up his bed to help and talk to people living outside.
The father-of-two will be joined by his work colleagues Gary Cocking and John Boswell from Tradeteam DHL and between them they have already raised over £700 which will go towards food and supplies for those in need.
He got involved in Feeding Belfast via his neighbour Debbie Gregg who founded the Feeding Belfast charity. He often goes with a group of the volunteers to feed people and hand out clothes, toileteries and other supplies.
“I have been down to Belfast a few times to help out and the group does a brilliant job,” said Philip.
“We would set up a table and hand out stuff and be there as a listening ear. We help those who may not necessarily be living out on the streets but who are in hostels and maybe all their money will go on rent and they don’t have enough money for food or clothes. We are there to help them.
“There are all sorts of people living out in the streets whose ages range from the age of 20 to 70. Only ten per cent suffer from alcohol or drugs problems.`
“Some people live rough for all kinds of reasons. They maybe going through a personal experience, a family break up or have been through the care system and have nowhere to go.
“If there is a family break up it is usually the woman who will get the house and the kids and it is the man who finds himself with no home.
“Some people are living out in a short term basis while others are out for about ten years. There is an older man I have met in Belfast who suffers from epilepsy and alcohol problems. I would see him with a bashed nose or cuts because he has a fit and no-one will come and help him.
“I admit that I would have been one of those people who if they saw anyone out on the streets I would have avoided them and walked the other side of the street. These people are human beings.”
Philip said he is looking forward to his sleep out in Lisburn.
“I have heard that there are people living rough at the Chapel Hill Road car park, Haslems Lane and Bow Street Mall car park,” said Philip. “If there are people living in the streets I hope to see them.”