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THE BEGINNING

THE HISTORY OF FOYLE HAVEN

When the Committee met, they agreed that Derry’s street drinkers needed a centre of their own. This would not be an easy task. They knew they would face a lot of ‘not in my back yard’ thinking. In a city divided along sectarian lines, they also needed somewhere that was neutral territory. And somewhere that was within walking distance of the Guildhall, so that drinkers would realistically be able to reach the centre. Soon, a premises above an off licence in John Street came to their attention. This raised a few eyebrows, but it fitted all of their other criteria. Planning permission was applied for, and before they knew it, the committee found themselves in possession of a key. In the beginning the John Street premises was just a set of empty, echoing rooms with bare floorboards. Paul Sheehy and Sister Catherine started, in Catherine’s words ‘doing the rounds of the town’ to gather up furniture, and soon became known to the locals as Bonnie and Clyde! Many local businesses contributed, happy that at last something was being done about street drinking.

And so, Foyle Haven opened its doors on 10th December 2001. Initially, the founding committee wondered if anyone would come to Foyle Haven. How would street drinkers feel about a centre run by a policeman and a nun? Their minds were soon put at rest as the centre quickly filled up with people. As the staff welcomed them in, and asked them what they wanted, the street drinkers quickly realised that the centre was for them - it was somewhere that they could feel ownership of.

Two months after Foyle Haven opened, Catherine remembers the centre full of people having lunch and playing pool, the washing machine tumbling away, and thinking that ‘this is the realisation of all our hopes.’

History of Foyle Haven  

Foyle Haven was established in 2001 by a group of committed people from the local community who wanted to provide support to local street dr...

History of Foyle Haven  

Foyle Haven was established in 2001 by a group of committed people from the local community who wanted to provide support to local street dr...

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