A MAN sleeping rough at a landmark site in the centre of Ballymena called ‘Harmony Hub’ puts homelessness into stark perspective, a councillor has said.
Cullybackey councillor Billy Henry (DUP) told a meeting of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council a conference on homelessness to be held at Ballymena Showgrounds on December 3 had the backdrop of “a homeless person taking up residence in our bandstand”.
That was a reference to a man who has been sleeping at night and remaining during the day in the ‘Harmony Hub’ at Broadway, the former site of a bandstand in one of the busiest areas of Ballymena town centre.
The name Harmony Hub was picked by Ballymena-born actor Liam Neeson earlier this year after suggestions were submitted by schoolchildren.
The site does have a roof but otherwise is exposed to the elements.
It is understood officials have approached the man sleeping at Harmony Hub to offer him help.
A Christmas Tree is due to be erected just feet from where the man is sleeping and on Thursday November 15, hundreds of people are due to gather in the area for the official lights switch-on.
The homeless conference at the Des Allen Suite at the Showgrounds coincides with Homeless Awareness Week.
Meanwhile, Magheramorne councillor Mark McKinty (Ulster Unionist) said a case in Larne received a lot of social media attention and a woman received offers of housing, benefits etc.
He said the local community really rallied round and brought her food and blankets and clothing supplies.
The councillor said he would like to see the Council taking the lead on homelessness, especially coming into winter.
An Ulster Unionist councillor for the Ballymena area, Stephen Nicholl, said there were quite a number of rough sleepers locally.
He said many have mental health and addiction issues and said there would need to be a range of services to provide stability.
He welcomed the staging of the homelessness conference.