Funding extension for crisis intervention service in Londonderry

A man holds his head in his handsImage source, PA
Image caption,
The service has been running as a pilot programme since January of last year

A Londonderry mental health crisis service, which has been under threat due to funding issues, is to be allocated £60,000, Health Minister Robin Swann has said.

Concerns were raised over the centre's future due to a lack of long-term funding.

The service has been operating through Derry City and Strabane District Council since January 2019.

The funding means operations will be able to continue until March 2021.

Previously, the centre had received £32,400 in June from the Department of Health to keep it open until the end of September.

The community crisis intervention service is operated by the charity Extern NI.

'Provide stability'

Health Minister Robin Swann said it was "important to provide stability for the service".

"I have already made it clear that suicide prevention, mental wellbeing and mental health services are a top priority for me as minister."

Mr Swann said the funding will give "reassurance for the local community, given the far-reaching impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic".

Joe Thompson, who is the centre's programme coordinator, said the funding ensures they can continue to provide a service for the city and the surrounding areas.

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, Mr Thompson said he was "extremely grateful" for the funding from the department and said the aim was for the centre to now find a long-term funding source.

"As much as six months of funding is extremely valuable, it's much more beneficial to the project if we can establish a funding source that will allow us to be in existence for two or three years."

Image caption,
Colum Eastwood says long-term funding must be found

Foyle MP Colum Eastwood welcomed the move, but stressed long-term funding is needed for a service that had "saved lives".

"People in need of immediate help have received dedicated and compassionate support in very difficult circumstances thanks to the powerful work of staff and volunteers here," Mr Eastwood said.

"This will make a real difference in Derry and far beyond."

SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin added that "short-term ad-hoc funding is not a sustainable way for a vital service to operate".

"The service needs an early commitment to ongoing financial support."

Where to get help?

If you live in Northern Ireland, you can call Lifeline, a 24-hour helpline on 0808 808 8000.

You can also contact the Samaritans on 116 123 in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

There is also a list of organisations that may be able to help at