Londonderry: ‘No money’ to fund mental health crisis service

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The service will has been running as a pilot programme since January of last year

The future of a Londonderry service set up to help those experiencing a mental health crisis could be in doubt because of a lack of funding.

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

It has been running since January 2019 as a pilot programme.

The Department of Health (DoH) has said there is no money to continue to fund the service and that its resources have been stretched by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This pilot is led by Derry and Strabane District Council and decisions on its future reside with the council,” a department spokesman said.

The project is funded until June.

At a meeting of the council on Thursday, Sinn Féin councillor Sandra Duffy put forward a motion, calling on the health minister to fund the service through the Protect Life 2 suicide-prevention strategy.

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

Ms Duffy said the crisis service “has undoubtedly saved lives, it has provided people with a safe space, provided people with signposting for more therapeutic services should they need them”.

She added: “I believe the money it takes to run this service is not insurmountable.”

But the department spokesman said its budget “is already fully committed and there are a wide range of projects already requiring funding under the strategy”.

He added “The department is facing a funding shortfall to maintain its existing services in addition to the need to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

At Thursday’s meeting, Derry and Strabane councillors agreed to write to the Stormont executive to ask for financial support for the service.

It followed an SDLP amendment asking for the funding request to go to all executive ministers.

SDLP councillor Martin Reilly said it is “is completely the wrong time to even consider closing a service like this during a global pandemic”.

BBC News

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