Catherine House opens to provide a sanctuary for vulnerable women

When the first woman walks through the doors of Catherine House on Monday, she will feel very much at home.

It could be your mother, your friend, your sister. It could be you. Whoever she is, having experienced homelessness, it will be her safe space.

Catherine House in Belfast has been designed to accommodate up to ten women, providing them with their own room, a kitchen and a bathroom while they recover from past traumas and transition to independent living.

They will also be able to access the support services they need to help them get back on their feet.

Women find themselves without a home for many reasons – some complex.

Victims of domestic violence perhaps, suffering from poor mental and physical health or simply because of the lack of affordable housing.

It’s been established in partnership between the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the homeless charity The Welcome Organisation.

The facility which is solely for women has been named after 32-year-old vulnerable woman, Catherine Kenny who died in a shop doorway in 2016.

The Charity sought permission from her family to establish it in her memory.

Her sister Lee-Maria Hughes said it has meant a lot to them and will ensure Catherine’s lasting legacy.

At Catherine House women experiencing homelessness will receive a level of service that is appropriate to their needs, working with them to resolve often deeply rooted challenges.

Chief Executive of The Welcome Organisation, Jo Daykin-Goodall said: “We are delighted to have been selected to deliver this vital homeless support service for women.

“The Welcome Organisation has been delivering potentially life-saving homelessness services for over 25 years, including the delivery of female-specific accommodation for homeless women in crisis. 

“Our staff have a wealth of experience not only in relation to homelessness, but in addictions and mental health as well.

“This new women’s service will expand on those services and will provide 24 hour supported living for ten women experiencing homelessness who are ready to take the next steps to live independently.

“This will be more than just a roof over their heads – it will have a therapeutic ethos were trauma-informed support will be interwoven into their daily lives.” 

Support workers will be on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week and if the pilot scheme works well here, it could be extended in the longer term.

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