On 10th October, Simonside House, one of Depaul UK’s youth homelessness projects in Newcastle, marked its 20th anniversary with a reception for 50 guests at St. Gabriel’s RC Church. Depaul International was proud to attend this celebration and was moved by the commitment of everybody involved.

Simonside House was opened 20 years ago by the late Cardinal Basil Hume, leader of the Catholic Church in England & Wales, and at that time Patron of Depaul UK. Depaul Group Chief Executive, Mark McGreevy, who spoke at the event, remembered this important time in our history as Simonside House was Depaul’s first homeless prevention project outside of London. Simonside has since worked with more than 500 young people aged 16 to 24.  Its set up was also remembered by the North East Region’s first manager, Patrick Doherty, who worked tirelessly to get the project up and running all those years ago, and who was able to be with the team in Newcastle to celebrate its 20th birthday.

The project remains as vital today as it was 20 years ago, helping young homeless people to find a safe haven and dedicated staff to turn to for support. The importance of Simonside House was movingly shown by Chantelle, a young, inspiring woman who wrote a poem about her journey with Depaul:

There once was a girl,

Sad and unhappy,

Broken from the soul,

With no where to go,

Abused by many,

Day by day,

Scarring her body,

To take the pain away,


There once was a girl,

Bringing up her brothers,

With no one to help,

Taking away their pain,

She got it all,

Silently praying she could take her life away,


Moving away,

Was the choice she made,

Broken and afraid,

Still scarring her body,

No words were spoken,

Eyes fixed to the ground,

Hiding her face so no one could see,

There once was a girl,


Simonside is were she was meant to be,

Taking each day as it comes,

Gradually building trust,

With a glimmer of hope,


Simonside is where she was meant to be,

Meeting new people everyday,

A dysfunctional family it may be,

Keyworkers just as crazy,

But she wouldnt have it any other way,

A while later she stopped scarring her body,

And trying to end her life,


She felt safe,

Being at Simonside helped her be who she was meant to be,

That person you see, she was me.