A SOUTH Belfast charity which provides advice and services to homeless people, asylum seekers and refugees, has received £500,000 from the National Lottery Fund which will go towards expanding and maintaining the many services it currently provides.

Holyland-based Homeplus was established in 2000 to provide assistance to homeless people in Belfast. Now, 22 years later, the charity has evolved to include providing advice on a range of issues such as healthcare, housing, employment and general advice to destitute asylum seekers, refugees and other ethnic minorities.

The charity continues to offer assistance to homeless people in the city centre and are on the streets 365 nights a year through their Street Outreach Programme, providing food, clothing and sleeping bags. They have excellent rapport with local community groups and the nearby student bodies and regularly raise money for local causes and people in the area.

As well as advice, the charity provides a drop-in centre which sends out food parcels, and provides three hot meals a week to those in need. The advice centre, run by John Mackin and Aaryama Yuusuf, provides advice and support through appointments five days a week on any and all issues, from getting children into schools, to housing, to health appointments and registering with GPs.

Its Women’s Centre provides a safe space for women and children to meet and socialise, as well as to share their experiences and learn from one another in a safe environment.

The charity said in a statement: “Homeplus would like to thank the National Lottery for this substantial piece of funding. This funding is for up to five years and will cover four staff as well as the running costs for our Women’s Centre, Drop-In Centre and Advice Centre so we can continue our vital work in helping homeless people, asylum seekers and refugees.”